STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
In a match defined by defense from both sides, the Bulldogs and the Loyola Ramblers played to a 1-1 tie, featuring redshirt senior Kyle Whigham’s first career goal. Loyola had twice as many shots on goal as Drake, but that didn’t mean much when the Bulldogs only fired two shots towards the net.
However, one of them still managed to cross the goal line as the Bulldogs got onto the board first in the 26th minute.
From 25 yards out, Whigham found the ball at his feet and blasted it towards the edge of the goal. It just barely missed the post and ended up in the back of the net.
It was also the first goal that Loyola has surrendered since Sept. 19.
“For me it’s been a long time coming,” Whigham said. “When the time came I made it count. It was a long distance shot and that’s something I’ve been working on over the course of five years and finally it has paid off in a big conference game for us.”
Despite playing in all 15 games this season and more than 50 over the past four seasons, Whigham never scored until Saturday night. He didn’t even have a shot on goal in 2015 until the goal.
Drake played conservatively once they were in the lead, the opposite of the Ramblers’ strategy. Loyola was called for four offsides violations in the match while Drake did not have any. The Ramblers took 11 corner kicks. Drake only had two.
It looked as though Drake was going to be able to hold off the Ramblers onslaught, but Loyola still managed to find the net with just over three minutes left in regulation.
Loyola forward Kevin Engesser had the ball in the box. He dropped the ball off to Connor Stevenson who dribbled the ball once before putting it past Drake goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod for the 87th minute equalizer.
The Bulldogs again struggled to generate offense in overtime. They only took two shots, only one of which was on goal. The Ramblers weren’t much better as they took five shots and only forced MacLeod to make one save. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Bulldogs haven’t won in three straight games. They tied Omaha and lost to SIUE at home last week, but will look to turn that around in their final home match of the season against Bradley on Senior Night.
“We’re ready to make the sacrifice for each other,” Whigham said. “It will be emotional, but at the same time we have a lot of games ahead that we plan on winning.”
Bradley is currently ranked second in the MVC with a conference record of 4-1, but Drake could take that spot, and secure a bye in the conference tournament, with a win at home on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs have a chance to win the whole conference as well, but would need Edwardsville to fall to Loyola on Saturday as well.
“We’re in a good position to win the conference regular season, which would be great for us,” Whigham said. “This season has been pretty remarkable. We have one of the better records we’ve had in quite some time and we’re in a good spot to make some noise in the postseason.”