Photo: Eduardo Zamarripa
After 105 minutes of play, Senior Night did not end the way the Bulldogs expected it would.
A golden goal at the 105:07 mark by Missouri State’s Heath Melugin lifted the Bears to a 2-1 victory over the Bulldogs at the Cownie Soccer Complex.
“We were pressing forward trying to get a winner,” redshirt senior goalkeeper Jordan Kadlec said. “We needed to win the game so we got a bye in the conference (tournament). They had some quick players. We ended up being caught.”
The loss evened the Bulldogs’ Missouri Valley Conference record at 3-3 and dropped their season ledger to 10-7-1. Drake finished the regular season on a three-game losing streak and missed out on an opportunity to have a first-round bye at the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship. The Bulldogs will travel to Omaha, Neb., to take on Central Arkansas on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the tournament’s quarterfinals.
“Our seniors, their leadership is huge on our team, and it’s kind of sad we couldn’t get the win for them,” sophomore Garrett Crall said. “We definitely controlled the game, had more chances. We were unlucky we couldn’t finish.”
The Senior Night festivities took place before the game started. The 12 seniors that were honored were Kadlec, Hunter Kennedy, Matt Kuhn, Colin Lawter, Michael Noonan, Thomas Ostrander, David Parato, Matt Prather, Matt Reindl, Jordan Stanley and Charles Schwartz.
The first half went by without many scoring opportunities for either team. Despite Drake owning a 3-2 shot advantage, it was the Bears that struck first and took the lead into the half. Danny Frid found the back of the net at the 19:31 mark to give Missouri State the early lead.
“The first half was really a nothing-happen half,” head coach Sean Holmes said. “The one chance they had, they finished, and I wasn’t really unnerved by it. I thought we would create chances once we got our wind in the second half. The goal was always coming for us. It took a little longer than I thought it would. “
With a first-round bye at stake and down a goal, the Bulldogs came out guns blazing in the second half and completely took over the game.
Drake generated a barrage of scoring opportunities, pinning the Bears into their own territory. The insertion of sophomore Bryan Jantsch at right back on defense gave the Bulldogs a lot more depth, as Jantsch broke down the right flank and placed several dangerous crosses.
However, a couple of impressive saves by Missouri State goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg kept the score at 1-0 throughout the majority of the second half.
But the Bulldogs’ persistence paid dividends when Ostrander was tackled inside the box to give Drake a penalty kick late in the second half. Kuhn cleanly placed his shot at the back of the net with less than five minutes remaining in the game to tie up the score at 1-1. The goal was Kuhn’s team-leading 10th of the year.
The game headed into overtime, where the Bears owned a 5-1 shot advantage. After an uneventful first overtime period, it appeared that the Bulldogs would cap off their rally at the start of the second overtime period. After wasting a pair of great scoring chances, the Bears put the game away to claim a share of the MVC regular-season title.
Drake outshot Missouri State 13-1 in the second half to give them a 17-8 shot advantage. Kadlec registered two saves for the Bulldogs.
“To be honest, as a senior, it shows your four years of work, for me five years,” Kadlec said. “To have alumni here is great, but to get the result would have been a lot better.”
The Bulldogs will have to regroup before Wednesday’s match. As the fourth seed, Drake will have to win three straight games to claim the MVC tournament title.
“I’d be more concerned if I thought we played poorly, and I thought we played pretty well,” Holmes said. “Lots of teams in America aren’t playing anymore, and we still have a chance.”