Photo: Joel Venzke
Drake saw its 2012 campaign come to a heartbreaking halt on Sunday as Creighton edged the Bulldogs 8-7 in a 10-round shootout after 110 scoreless minutes at Cownie Soccer Complex.
Despite the disappointing loss, junior goalkeeper Kalena Litch lauded the Bulldogs’ grit.
“No matter what the outcome was, we never gave up during the game,” Litch said. “We continued fighting.”
The Missouri Valley Conference foes traded momentum throughout regulation as Drake outshot Creighton 12-11 in the initial 90 minutes.
Creighton opened the initial overtime with a pair of shots. The Bulldogs answered with a 2-1 shot advantage in the second overtime, but the match remained scoreless.
As the best-of-five shootout loomed, Litch focused under the pressure thanks to Drake’s senior class.
“I stayed focused by not wanting the season to end because of the seniors,” Litch said. “This was their last opportunity to make it to the NCAA (tournament), so I just wanted to help them get there in the best way possible.”
Sunday’s back-and-forth battle continued with the best-of-five shootout as both teams converted all of their attempts, sending the match into a sudden-death setup.
Freshman midfielder Rhian Pritchard’s shot went high to start the sixth round.
Litch then registered a save off of sophomore midfielder Angela Benson’s try to keep the season alive.
Freshman defender Kylie DeHaven’s shot also missed, ricocheting off the post. Litch came up with another huge save to keep everything at 5-5.
One round later, junior defender Ann Hoover missed and freshman Flo Beshiri nailed a shot to seal Creighton’s spot in the upcoming MVC semifinals, dashing the Bulldogs’ MVC Championship hopes.
“This year we worked so hard to get to the MVC tournament,” Litch said. “One of our main goals was to make it to the final game, and knowing that we didn’t accomplish that goal, having this be the seniors’ last chance, it was hard seeing them work so hard and not have it pay off.”
The Bulldogs lose five seniors in forwards Laura Moklestad and Kasey Wellman and midfielders Kelsey Pigg, Lauren Strickfaden and Tara Zika. Sunday’s game held especially high stakes as the seniors bid their Bulldog careers farewell.
“We all wanted it, but it was more important for them to get a good outcome in the end,” Litch said.