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Wildcats edge Bulldogs at Northern Illinois Invitational

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A golden goal from Northwestern’s Chris Ritter at the 92:25 mark propelled the Wildcats over the Bulldogs to a 2-1 victory in the Northern Illinois Invitational opener on Friday.

The loss dropped the Bulldogs’ record to 1-4 as they continue to play out their competitive non-conference schedule. The Wildcats came into the game having received votes in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top-25 national poll.

“Again the outcome was a little disheartening, but when you’re playing a strong Big Ten team like Northwestern, you have to put away chances,” said head coach Sean Holmes in a Drake athletics press release. “We realized when we graduated the players we did last year that we’d have days like this, back-to-back days like this, but the challenge now is for a young and less experienced team to step up and increase our scoring chances.”

Northwestern opened up the scoring at the 27:03 mark when Kyle Schickel found the back of the net for his second goal of the year. The Bulldogs went into the break trailing 1-0.

Fifth-year senior Michael Thaden scored his first goal of the year off a free kick to tie the game up in the 52nd minute.

Both squads attempted to break the deadlock and avoid overtime, with the Wildcats edging the Bulldogs with a 10-6 shot advantage during regulation. Redshirt junior Rich Gallagher registered a pair of key saves in the second half to keep the game tied up at one and force overtime.

Gallagher made two more key saves in the extra period, but it was the third shot on goal in overtime that ended the match and gave the Wildcats the win.

The Wildcats edged the Bulldogs with a 13-6 shot advantage and also registered a 5-1 edge in corner kicks. Holmes felt his squad generated enough scoring opportunities to come out with the win.

“I have coached teams that couldn’t make scoring opportunities, but this team can, and now we have to put them away,” Holmes said.

Gallagher’s four saves all came in the second half and overtime. Thaden paced the Bulldogs with three shots and junior Addison Eck registered two shots.

Holmes expressed concern with the inability of Drake to score in the run of play.

“Thaden’s goal was world class,” Holmes said. “But that now means that in four of the five games we have lost, we have yet to score a goal in the run of play.”

While the Bulldogs’ 1-4 start is disheartening, Drake has faced a tough non-conference schedule and has faced quality opponents, such as Cincinnati, Marquette and now, Northwestern. Drake’s four losses have come by a combined five goals.

Following the Northern Illinois Invitational, the Bulldogs will play four consecutive games away from the Cownie Soccer Complex. Drake will take on William and Mary on Sept. 14 and will face Old Dominion on Sept. 16. Both games will take place in Omaha, Neb.

Drake closed out their tournament action on Sunday against Northern Illinois. Details from the game against Northern Illinois will be available in the next issue of The Times-Delphic.

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