Drake University may have been on fall break on Oct. 14, but the men’s soccer team was putting in some serious work and ended up pulling off the biggest upset of the Missouri Valley Conference, beating MVC frontrunner Missouri State 2-1.
Missouri State’s men’s soccer team is not only ranked first in the MVC, but it is also ranked No. 32 in the nation. Before the matchup against Drake, Missouri State had accomplished six consecutive shutouts and hadn’t lost a game since Sept. 10. The loss against Drake was their first conference loss.
With the win at Missouri State, the Bulldogs earned their first conference win just in time for the wrap-up of the regular season. The win was made possible by goals from both sophomore midfielder/forward Antonio Sanchez and junior forward Ryan Merideth. Sanchez would score his first goal of the season and Merideth would score his second.
“Overall [I am] just really pleased with the performance from the guys,” said Merideth. “We all worked together as a team and fought for something we knew we could achieve. I’ve been truly blessed by God to be a part of Drake Soccer and scoring a goal in the win was an incredible feeling. All credit to the team on the big win.”
The win wasn’t effortless, though. A lot of work went in behind-the-scenes. Although technique on the ball is important, the emphasis in practice leading up to the upset dealt with a bigger picture.
The Bulldogs worked on offensive positioning of the ball in order to frustrate Missouri State’s back line. The team knew their pace on top could be the most effective if used correctly and lead to more goal-scoring opportunities.
In addition, the Drake defense continues to see improvement from week to week. Credit to goalkeeper and redshirt first-year Caden McCullough as well: MSU recorded a season high of 15 shots, but just one of them bested the Evansville native. During the MSU matchup, Nic Jaimes stepped up to play right back and delivered a solid performance.
The Drake Bulldogs and Missouri State Bears will face off again at the end of the regular season in Des Moines. MSU will surely look to steal back Drake’s hard-fought victory as the two teams go head-to-head at Cownie Soccer Complex.