STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
The Bulldogs remained undefeated in the MVC with a victory over the Central Arkansas Bears on Saturday night. The win came after Drake nearly shocked the no. 1 Creighton Bluejays on Tuesday night in a nonconference match.
Creighton has surprised many with their play this season as they now sit at an undefeated 12-0-0, the only perfect team in the NCAA’s top 25.
Still, the Bluejays were put on upset alert when Drake got out ahead.
Junior midfielder Mueng Sunday’s 45th minute goal put Drake on top 1-0, but two goals in the final 15 minutes gave Creighton the win.
As time wound down near the end of the first half, Drake senior Alex Troester took a corner kick that was almost cleared by Creighton’s defense. Sunday corralled the ball and sent a perfectly executed chip shot over the Bluejays’ goalie and into the net to put Drake on top 1-0.
Sunday has been hot for the Bulldogs over the past month. His five assists are tied for the lead in the Missouri Valley Conference, all of which came in the last five games, and he now has a goal as well. His goal gave him a point total of seven, tying him with midfielder James Wypych for most on the Bulldogs at the time.
The Bluejays managed to tie the match up in the 79th minute thanks to an effort play delivered by midfielder Timor Pitter. He fired a shot on goal, only to have it blocked by Drake goalie Darrin MacLeod — one of his six saves in the half — but Pitter collected the rebound and put it into the back of the net.
Just over five minutes later, the Bluejays took the lead, again off of a rebound.
After MacLeod deflected a shot from Bluejay midfielder Fernando Castellanos. Creighton’s Vincent Keller took control of the loose ball and passed it to teammate Ricky Lopez-Espin who proceeded to score the deciding goal of the match.
Credit must be given to the Bluejays’ defense for only allowing one shot on goal throughout the match. Creighton’s offense, on the other hand, recorded 10 shots on goal and an additional 18 shots not on target.
On paper it looked as though Drake had been dominated by the best team in the country, except for one category. Drake held the advantage for total time in the lead, on top for 34 minutes as compared to Creighton’s 11. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Creighton held the lead at the end of the match, the only time when it really matters.
MacLeod made eight saves in the match, a season-high for the redshirt junior.
The loss snapped a four game win streak for the Bulldogs, but the team was able to turn that around against Central Arkansas four days later.
It was a game defined by defense. There were a combined 12 saves in the match, nine of which came in the second half, and just a single goal.
Good news for the Bulldogs – the goal was theirs.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the 65th minute. Sophomore Steven Enna found Wypych open in the middle of the box. Wypych then took his only shot of the match and fired the ball goalwards. It careened off the post, but still rolled across the goal line to put Drake on top.
The goal was Wypych’s fourth of the season, putting him tied for second most in the MVC behind Wes Carson of Central Arkansas with five.
Central Arkansas still displayed clutch defense, keeping Drake to just one goal despite its 22 shots in total. The Bears only managed seven shots in total.
The Bulldogs improved to 3-0 in the MVC with the win and looked to stay undefeated at Western Illinois last night.
They will return home next week for matches against Omaha and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville at Cownie Soccer Complex on Tuesday and Saturday, respectively.