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Evansville poses threat

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Photo: Michael Sage

It’s been a season of “streaks” for Drake’s men’s soccer squad. After starting off the year with a 1-7-2 record in non-conference play, the Bulldogs bounced back with a tie against Creighton and three consecutive wins.

Now, the Bulldogs (4-10-3, 1-2-1 MVC) are coming off their third straight defeat and second straight overtime loss. Drake came up short in a pair of grinding Missouri Valley Conference matches this past week, falling 3-2 on the road against Bradley and 2-1 on the road against SIU Edwardsville, both in overtime.

“Obviously, they’re big games — they’re conference games on the road. It definitely hurts to go to overtime and lose both times,” said junior midfielder Bryan Jantsch. “We can’t have a lapse. We did all the hard work coming back on both games.”

Head coach Sean Holmes was pleased with the team’s performance and believes the team is in good shape heading into the last stretch of the regular season.

“In soccer, how you play matters. Obviously the result is the result of most importance. But we played very well in both games. We scored three very good goals from the run of play, something we haven’t done all year and we did it against two more experienced teams than us on the road,” Holmes said. “I was happy. I was disappointed obviously in not winning. Statistically, it’s hard to win on the road. I wasn’t discouraged. I think we’re in good shape. We control our own destiny.”

With only two conference games remaining in the regular season for Drake, the Bulldogs will try to improve their seed in the MVC standings before heading to the conference tournament. The MVC Championship is slated to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Peoria, Ill.

Losing both games would jeopardize the Bulldogs’ MVC tournament berth.

The Bulldogs will look to take advantage of their last home game of the season when they take on Evansville (9-5, 3-1 MVC) on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Cownie Soccer Complex on Senior Night. The Bulldogs are 3-2-1 at home this season.

“They’re always a tough opponent, they always give us a good game,” Jantsch said. “We’ve created more chances, now we have to finish them. The key, if we get a chance we have to put it in the back of the net.”

Drake has dominated the Purple Aces, having won nine of their last 10 meetings, including a 2-1 win over Evansville 2-1 last season in what became the only conference victory on the road for the Bulldogs.

But the Purple Aces are having their best season since 2009 as they sit in second place in the MVC standings. In 2009, the Purple Aces lost to Drake in the MVC Championship.

Holmes talked about the importance of playing an error-free game and the motivation that comes with Senior Night.

“It will be the last game for four guys. It will be their last game ever at home. This is it. I think that provides an extra motivation for the players and I think if we don’t make mistakes, then we win,” Holmes said.

Following their match against Evansville, the Bulldogs will hit the road for their regular season finale to take on Missouri State on Friday, Nov. 2. The Bears (5-6-3, 0-4 MVC) have yet to win a conference game this season.

The Bulldogs hope to start a new, positive streak and enter the MVC Championship on a roll.

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