STORY BY COLTON WARREN
The Drake women’s soccer team opened Missouri Valley Conference play with a tough 1-0 loss to Evansville on Sunday at the Cownie Soccer Complex.
Evansville struck early for what proved to be the game winner in the fourth minute on a penalty kick. Bronwyn Boswell took the shot for the Purple Aces and beat sophomore Drake goalkeeper Kylynn Moyer to put Evansville on top.
The penalty kick came after Moyer deflected Evansville’s Allie Arguello’s shot on net at 3:06 in the first half. The rebound caused a scramble in the box to control the lose ball, which ultimately yielded a Drake penalty.
It was Boswell’s fifth goal for the Purple Aces this season.
Drake head coach Lindsey Horner said the early goal set the Bulldogs up for an uphill battle in the remaining 86 minutes.
“We really put ourselves on the back foot by allowing such an early goal because Evansville never had to play open,” Horner said.
Horner said starting each game well is key to picking up wins in the conference season.
“Our players know the importance of starting a game well … We need to start each game with a sense of urgency, which we didn’t demonstrate until the second half,” Horner said.
The Bulldogs were plagued by turnovers in their own defensive end throughout the game, which Horner attributed to pressure applied by the Evansville attack.
“Defensively, our backs did a good job, but across the field we weren’t clean enough in dealing with Evansville’s pressure in the first half,” Horner said.
The Bulldogs did see several quality chances on goal go by the wayside as they were held scoreless in their second straight game at home.
Sophomore Rebecca Rodgers set up one of Drake’s best chances early in the first half after getting past the Evansville defense deep in the box. She sent a strong cross to senior Generve Charles, but Charles lost her footing and the ball trickled away.
Later in the half, midfielder Rhian Pritchard saw the Bulldogs’ best chance go off the cross bar after she blasted a shot from outside the 18-yard box. The ball bounced high off the crossbar before falling to junior Kylie DeHaven. DeHaven collected and sent the rebound on goal, only to be saved by Purple Ace goalkeeper Simone Busby.
Busby helped Evansville extend their shutout streak to six games in a row with a six save effort.
Moyer collected four saves on the day for Drake.
Each team registered 12 shots in the match, with the Bulldogs leading 6-5 in shots on goal.
Sophomore Kayla Armstrong and Pritchard led the Drake offense with a game-high three- shot performance for each.
Drake will continue its MVC play when they travel to in-state rival Northern Iowa on Saturday.
Horner made sure to note the ramped up style of play during conference season, an aspect of her teams play she sees has room for improvement this week.
“The game will be different than our last in that UNI is very physical and direct and looks to create a chaotic game,” Horner said. “It will come down to competing, adapting and being physical, and this aspect of our game is not yet consistent.”
Horner said rivalry games like with UNI will be key for the Bulldogs as they advance further into conference play.
“UNI is a rivalry game that will be very important when it comes to MVC standings,” Horner said. “This is a huge game for us. We have to go on the road and come home with points.”