Photo: Eduardo Zamarripa
The Drake men’s soccer team earned its first shutout of the year, defeating Bradley 1-0 in the Bulldogs’ first Missouri Valley Conference game of the year.
The first half was unlike many of the other games the Bulldogs have played this season, as the game remained scoreless. Most of the games this season have been multiple goal scoring affairs.
“The back four is a work in progress,” Drake head coach Sean Holmes said. “They are still young, but they picked the right time to get it together.”
Sophomore Nick Marshall scored the game’s lone goal. His header off a free kick found the back of the net in the 68th minute.
“The foul was committed about 60 yards from goal,” Marshall said. “(Sophomore) Logan (North) played in a great ball, and someone got a head on it, so it went straight in the air. I didn’t really have anyone around me too close, so I just jumped up and headed the ball to the corner the best I could, trying to get as much pace on it as I could.”
The defender Marshall was happy he could step up and help the team score from the back line.
“It was amazing,” Marshall said of the goal. “It was something you just dream of as a soccer player. As a team, we worked hard for the shutout and as a center back, it is always amazing to score.”
The win showed the team’s prowess and culminated in a big boost to start the conference season. It was also a key win to add to Drake’s resume for getting into the NCAA tournament.
“I think the victory also serves to build our NCAA tournament credibility,” Holmes said. “Bradley has been on a tear, and this win has extra meaning. I’ve always thought we were capable of these results, and now that we’re getting them I think we’ve sent a clear message to the rest of the Valley, and in fact across the Midwest, that our team is for real.”
The game was back-and-forth as the Bulldogs pulled through with the win despite only scoring the one goal. The possibility of scoring two goals and putting the game away late would have caused less stress for Holmes.
“(Scoring a second goal) would have just caused me less gray hairs,” he said. “Those games go right down to the last second. It could have been a 5-0 game, or we could have lost 0-3. It was just so back-and-forth.”
Senior Matt Kuhn had a golden opportunity to add a second goal. He broke loose for a breakaway in the 88th minute, but his shot sailed above the crossbar.
Bradley outshot Drake 10-5 in the second half and 19-15 on the game.
Senior goalkeeper Jordan Kadlec led the Bulldog defense with six saves and registered his first shutout of the year.
Kadlec had missed 4 1/2 games due to an ankle injury, and redshirt sophomore Rich Gallagher stepped in and played for him during his absence.
The Bulldogs are back in action at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Evansville.
ON THE ROAD
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 12
@ Evansville, 7 p.m.