By DRAKE LOHSE
For the first time this season, the Drake Bulldogs have won three consecutive games. For the second time in three games, senior Alyssa Brand netted the game winner, and the Drake Bulldogs edged out the Missouri State Bears 1-0.
It was a fitting ending to an up-and-down season. Head coach Lindsey Horner spoke after the game as to the overall transformation of the team as the season progressed. “We are a different team than we were at the beginning of the season,” Horner said. “Our players have a much better understanding of their positional roles and how their teammates play. We gained a lot of experience during our non-conference season, and put in a lot of work to get better together.”
Despite sharp offensive play and a reliable defense, the Bulldogs were only able to put together consecutive wins once this season outside of the final three games. This stretch began with a tie against Evansville, which left the team disappointed, but resilient mentioned sophomore Hannah Bormann was said the team gained steam following the Evansville game. “Following the tie, overall, the team was frustrated. We played 110 minutes and happily held them to a shut out, but I think when our back line does that for us we need to step up and put our chances away in the final third,” Bormann said. “I think that gave us momentum coming into the game against Missouri State game though and we’ve really stepped up.”
On Thursday against Missouri State, the Bulldogs took charge early and kept on the gas. Despite the final goal not coming until the 82nd minute, Drake kept the Bears on their toes, attacking the goal and capitalizing on open opportunities throughout. In the second half, the Bulldog’s offensive attack was spearheaded by junior Shelley Lyjak, who fired off two rockets, just a minute apart, that narrowly avoided the Bear’s goal.
In the 82nd minute, Lyjak collected the ball on the home edge of the field. She delivered it quickly to Alyssa Brand, who put it away for what would turn out to be the game winner on an assist and shot. Brand’s goal is her second in three weeks, and her second overall goal on the season. Her first score would come in the 75th minute against UNI. Brand missed more than half this season with an injury, and made her return against Loyola.
Thursday’s win marks a three game winning streak to end the season, and gives Drake plenty of reasons to feel encouraged going into the tournament. Hannah Bormann elaborated after the game on the team mentality after the success over the last stretch of the season. “We’re feeling good going into the tournament,” Bormann said. “I think beating Missouri State was a good game to end the regular season on. Now we have to take care of what matters. We are only guaranteed one more game from here on out, so I think we are more driven to do big things!”The win clinched the number two seed for the Bulldogs in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in Chicago. They travel to Chicago for a rematch against Evansville on Friday.
PHOTO DRAKE WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM PLAYING AGAINST MISSOURI STATE | PHOTO BY AUTUMN OSIA