BY MADDIE TOPLIFF
The Drake University 2017 soccer season concluded last week following the men’s Missouri Valley Conference tournament in Peoria, Illinois.
The women finished their season almost a whole week prior to the men in Springfield, Missouri at their own conference tournament after losing to University of Northern Iowa in the semifinals.
UNI went on to place second in the tournament behind Missouri State.
The Drake women were seeded No. 1 in the tournament after winning the regular season conference title, having gone undefeated in conference play all season save for one tie against Missouri State.
With their title victory, the Drake women’s team earned a bye for the first round of the tournament and faced UNI on Friday, Nov. 3 to determine who would eventually face tournament champion Missouri State on Nov. 5.
At the end of the first half, the women looked to be facing trouble. The Panthers had already capitalized on Drake mistakes, leading the Bulldogs 2-0 at half.
The Drake women did their best to come from behind and rally, but they were not able to find the back of the net despite playing with lots of heart.
The loss against UNI was not expected from the Bulldogs as they had beat Northern Iowa at home on Oct. 11 in a 2-1 victory.
Despite the disappointing 0-2 loss, the Bulldogs recorded decent numbers during the tournament match up.
They more than doubled Northern Iowa’s shot total, outshooting the Panthers 25-11. Redshirt senior Rebecca Rodgers recorded a season high seven shots.
Although the postseason came to an abrupt end, the Drake women’s team earned multiple awards following their fantastic season.
Redshirt senior Rebecca Rodgers earned MVC Player of the Year for not the first but second time in her award-winning career, the first honor earned in 2015.
Rodgers is the all-time leading scorer for Drake University with 39 goals and is the fourth player to ever be named Player of the Year twice in league history.
In addition to Player of the Year honors, Rodgers was also named to the All-MVC First Team alongside teammates Haley Morris, senior goalkeeper, and Ali Smith, senior defender.
Haley Morris was additionally named MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, her first MVC honor of her career.
Her twelve wins are tied with a Drake record of the most single-season wins by a goalkeeper.
Ali Smith was additionally named MVC Defender of the Year, becoming the third Bulldog in the school’s history to receive the title, and she was also named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team.
Junior Alyssa Brand and seniors Kasey Hurt and Brooke Salisbury were named second team all-MVC and senior Rachel Wanninger received all-MVC honorable mention.
First-year Hannah Bormann became the second ever Bulldog to be named MVC Freshman of the Year, playing 18 matches and scoring three goals.
During the season, she was awarded MVC Newcomer of the Week twice. Bormann joins Olivia Bruce on the MVC All-Freshman team for the 2017 season.
Head coach Lindsey Horner and the rest of the coaching staff won the MVC Coaching Staff of the Year award, leading the team to their sixth Missouri Valley Conference title, the second in three years.
The women end their season with a 13-4-2 record, tying a school record for most wins in a season.
The Drake men’s team made it to the quarterfinals but ended up losing to tournament host Bradley.
Bradley moved on to the semifinals where they ended up losing to tournament champions Central Arkansas.
The Drake men’s team went into the tournament seeded at No. 7.
They kicked off the tournament with their unbelievable match against No. 6 seed Valparaiso last Tuesday afternoon, pulling a 4-2 victory over the Crusaders with all four goals scored in the second half.
Drake’s goals were courtesy of redshirt sophomore Alex Peterson (career second), graduate transfer Jake Taylor (Drake career first), first-year Leroy Enzugusi (career fifth), and junior Nic Jaimes (career ninth).
The sweet victory put the Bulldogs in a great position to square off against Bradley.
Drake lost a close one to Bradley earlier in the season, allowing a 0-1 win for the Braves.
The Bulldog-Braves matchup landed on last Wednesday evening, both teams eager to head on to the semifinals.
The Bulldogs exuded confidence going into the half ahead with a 1-0 score thanks to first-year Stafford Dowling (career second), but unfortunately for the men, Bradley was just getting started.
The second half was almost a too-cruel imitation of Drake’s Tuesday victory against Valpo; Bradley scored all three of their goals in the latter half of the game, dominating both sides of the field much like the Bulldogs had done the afternoon before.
Drake was sent packing and returned to campus early Thursday afternoon.
However, the fun wasn’t quite over yet for the men’s team.
On Thursday morning it was announced that junior Ryan Merideth and senior Aleksi Tuominen made the CoSIDA Academic All-District VI team.
They will now be eligible for the Academic All-American ballot.
Merideth and Tuominen were two of seven honorees chosen from the Missouri Valley Conference.
The criteria for the honor includes being a starter or “important reserve” with at least a 3.3 GPA on a 4.0 scale. The players honored must also play in 50 percent of games.
Three other Bulldogs received conference acclaim on Thursday. Senior Mason Leonard was named to the all-MVC second team and first-year Leroy Enzugusi and graduate student Jake Taylor received all-MVC honorable mentions. These were the first all-MVC honors for the three players.
The Drake men’s team ended their season with a 6-11-2 record.