Photo by Grace Hulin
BY ERIN O’BOYLE
The men’s soccer team entered the contest on Friday night to capitalize on a three-game winning streak and have defeated nationally ranked teams in the last few weeks, but Friday was different. After defeating the University of Missouri-Kansas City in a shutout, 3-0, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, 3-1, the Bulldogs are feeling a sense of momentum.
Being that Drake has now beaten two nationally ranked teams — Butler No. 9 and UIC No. 20 — while not being ranked themselves says something about this year’s team. Junior defensive player Scott Misselhorn says that they pushed themselves harder in the pre-season workouts.
“A big thing we came into pre-season was with our fitness. I think our mentality of always having a crazy work rate, just always working hard, and always going hard into tackles has helped. Because all teams have that fitness, but not everyone has that crazy work rate,” Misselhorn said.
According to Misselhorn, this year’s team is closer than ever, an attribute that might have something to do with their performance this season.
“We’re all really tight knit … brothers, you’d say,” Misselhorn said.
This band of brothers is a familiar team, with only 5 first-years joining the team and 2 transfers, Lucas Bartlett (Loyola-Chicago) and Cole Poppen (University of Tulsa). The rest have already played together before.
With these 3 major wins under their belt, Misselhorn says that clenching conference is no doubt front and center in their minds, and dare they say even the NCAA tournament.
A big thing that the team is focusing on this year is not so much looking at their own weaknesses, but rather looking at where their opponents struggle most, a practice they call scripting or “punishing.” This strategy was a major asset in their game last week against UMKS.
UMKS never seemed to be able to gain enough momentum to slow the Drake Bulldogs down. The Bulldogs just kept pushing the ball up to their forwards, giving UMKS’s defense no time to recover.
The first goal was courtesy of midfielder Alex Peterson, who headed the ball in at the 54th minute after a free kick. Soon after, forward Leroy Enzugusi slid past UMKC’s goalkeeper to make the score 2-0. And 10 minutes later, the Bulldogs did it again and claimed the victory, making the final score 3-0. Even after a rain delay, Drake still kept up their momentum which led them to claim a shutout victory on the road.
On Friday night, the Bulldogs played DePaul at the Cownie Soccer Complex. The Bulldogs scored at the 46th minute to make the score 1-0 going into the second half. It was not until the 84th minute that the DePaul Blue Demons struck back making the score 1-1 and launching the teams into overtime. Four minutes into overtime, the Blue Demons scored and clenched their win. After a hard-fought battle, the Bulldogs lost the game and their winning streak.
Although their winning streak may have ended, the three back-to-back wins have given the team a new sense of confidence that Misselhorn says has been lacking for the past two seasons. With five regular season home games left, Misselhorn encourages the Drake community to “come support us and check us out on social media.”
The Bulldogs’ next home game is Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. against Western Illinois University.