Last week, the Bulldogs finally snapped their five-game losing streak in Wisconsin, but failed to deliver a conference win for the hometown fans. As the back half of the season rapidly approaches, the team looks to build on mid-season experience.
The Bulldogs earned their first win of the season last Wednesday, besting Green Bay on the road by a score of 1-0. In the 51st minute, redshirt junior Paul Cizewski, capitalizing on a cross from senior Mason Leonard, headed the ball straight into the net to put the Bulldogs on top for the rest of the game. With four saves, redshirt first-year keeper Caden McCullough recorded the first win and shutout of his career.
On a humid and foggy night, the Bulldogs revved up to face conference rival Valparaiso at home Saturday. From the very first whistle, the home team looked hungry to put up some points. The offense’s consistent stream of persistence paid off when freshman forward Leroy Enzugisi finessed the ball from one end of the field to the other to score in the 26th minute. Not even ten minutes later, junior Nic Jaimes added another score, fueled by an exquisite effort from the midfield. Drake entered halftime up 2-0, a “dangerous zone” according to head coach Gareth Smith.
Dangerous is right. Valparaiso wasted little time in the second half and exploited a dissonant Drake defense, tying up the game in the 58th minute. Neither team played its best ball for the remaining of regulation, forcing not one but two overtime periods, with Valpo coming out on top.
It’s now about the midpoint of the Bulldogs’ season. Although they own a losing record, the team continues to impress Coach Gareth Smith with their brave style of play from week to week.
“They’re being brave enough to go head to head with some really good teams. I really like their appetite and mentality,” Smith shared. “Something we need to work on is the ability to manage games. We’ve played a lot of good teams recently, and so we’re using those games as an opportunity to build experience. We’ve got a young team on many levels.”
The Bulldogs will have another opportunity to build on experience when they visit a veteran team, Western Illinois, this coming Wednesday. With a solid defensive strategy, Drake may have the opportunity to edge the Leathernecks out, with Western Illinois having lost to Green Bay earlier in the season.
Missed Saturday’s matchup? The Bulldogs are back at home in Cownie Soccer Complex next on Saturday, September 23rd. Come out and support the team as they face the UMKC Roos just in time for homecoming.