By DRAKE LOHSE
The Drake Women’s soccer team continue to play well, climbing higher in the Missouri Valley Conference standings. The week started on Wednesday, with a 2-1 victory over the UNI Panthers in Cedar Falls, but to really understand the kind of week the Bulldogs have had, you need to go back to the 13th of October, when the Bulldogs did all they could to pull off a victory against Evansville, but were unable to do so. The two teams tied 0-0.
It’s can be difficult to pinpoint what it is that a team needs to adjust after a game that ends in a tie. On one hand, the Bulldogs provided the Purple Aces with the stout, physical defensive play that has become their calling card—spear-headed by standout goalkeeper Kelsie Stone, who finished the game with 5 saves (her 11th game this season with 5 plus saves). On the other hand, Evansville matched Drake’s defensive effort with one of their own.
The Bulldogs traveled home and did what they had to do in order to prepare for UNI just four days later. On Wednesday, the Drake Bulldogs marched into Cedar Falls to face the Panthers despite the tie to Evansville the week before and the previous loss to Loyola. They took the field against UNI as determined to win and make a strong push towards playoff contention. It was apparent from the opening kick. Despite every up and down this season, the Bulldogs have only looked forward and to the possibilities of the postseason—something they say hasn’t changed since the start of the season. Freshman Alison Walls elaborated after the game on the team’s ultimate vision for this Season.“Our team keeps the energy and end goals in mind because we know results are not what is most important at the beginning of the season, but rather wins and losses matter most toward the end,” Walls said. “That being said, our team has our hearts set on winning the MVC Tournament and we are doing what we can now to put us in a good position to accomplish that.”
In only the sixth minute of play, UNI scored on an own goal by Drake. Early on in the game, the Bulldogs were down a goal. Rather than stop and shake their heads in confusion, the Bulldogs dug in. They outshot the Panthers 16-10, and 10-9 on shots on goal. Then, in the 23rd minute of play, Drake scored on an own goal by UNI. With newfound life, Drake pushed the pace and were rewarded with quality opportunities on the field. In the 75th minute, Cassie Rohan broke through, taking a shot from inside the box that was saved by UNI. UNI’s relief wouldn’t last, however, as senior Alyssa Brand collected the rebound took a low shot with her left foot across the UNI goalkeeper for her first goal of the season.
The goal was a moment of relief for Brand, who was injured early in the season. The game against Loyola early in October would be her first game back from a torn meniscus. Now with 14 career goals, Brand advances to 10th on the all-time scoring list in the history of Drake Women’s soccer. The first goal of her senior season would come at just the right time. With newfound energy and the wind to their heels, the Bulldogs found the momentum on their side throughout the rest of the game.