Photo by Cassandra Bauer
BY ADAM ROGAN
Freshman Antonio Sanchez had no Bradley defenders in front of him in the final minute of yesterday’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament play-in game after stealing the pass from a defender. With only the goalie to beat, Sanchez was tripped up by the keeper. The goalkeeper, senior Logan Ketterer, was given a red card and replaced for a penalty kick.
Drake senior Mueng Sunday coolly put the PK past the freshman substitute to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead with 25 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs won the match and advanced into the quarterfinal round, a match scheduled for 3 p.m. the next day, Nov. 9, against the Evansville Purple Aces.
Drake took the lead 26 minutes into the match. Redshirt-senior Ben LeMay drew a foul just above the penalty arc. Four Bulldogs lined up for the free kick from 28 yards out. After senior James Wypych faked a shot, senior defender James Pendrigh fired a bullet around the wall that curled mere inches inside of the right post, out of Ketterer’s reach.
It was Pendrigh’s first goal in Drake blue and the first in his career, after transferring from the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay before this season.
With the lead in hand, the Bulldogs’ scheme shifted. Their defense became more organized, essentially playing with six defenders as opposed to the traditional four.
This helped prevent shots on goal on free and bouncing balls played into the defensive box. Redshirt-senior Darrin MacLeod only needed to make two saves in the shutout, both of them in the first half.
Drake did get lucky at a couple points when Braves squandered chances on goal. When the match was still tied 0-0, Bradley Sophomore Alex mishandled a cross that MacLeod had tipped and sent his short-range shot out of bounds.
Bradley freshman Suad Suljic had a chance in the 60th minute, but the cross was played behind him and Suljic sent the attempted header over the crossbar.
That was one of only two shots for Bradley in the second half, as the Bulldogs dominated possession with an attack led by sophomore Nic Jaimes who finished the match with two shots.
All three of Drake’s 2016 conference wins have come against the Bradley. The Bulldogs will look to turn that around against Evansville and advance to the semifinal match two days later.
Last season, the Bulldogs won the MVC Tournament and advanced to the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. This year, however, they face more of an uphill battle. The championship match would be their fourth game in five days. They also entered the tournament ranked sixth in the MVC. Last year, they came in seeded third.
The one time Drake faced Evansville this season was on Oct. 22 in Des Moines. The Bulldogs lost that match a 4-3 scoring frenzy.