Story by Will Thornton
The Bulldogs improved their conference record to 2-1-0 after a comfortable one-goal win over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Saturday night at Cownie Soccer Complex.
Drake began the tilt on the offensive and held the majority of possession prior to the opening goal.
While the Cougars found the time for a shot on goal that forced an early save from redshirt freshman Drake keeper Darrin MacLeod, the Bulldogs proved their resolve by responding within minutes.
A skirmish in the Cougars’ penalty box after a length of possession saw the ball fall to the feet of redshirt junior midfielder Jarred Arde, who dragged his shot across goal and into the far post, where it ricocheted into the net to give Drake its early 1-0 lead.
“We kept the ball alive well for the first eight minutes,” Arde said. “Getting an early goal was really helpful in keeping us focused and in control of the game.”
The Bulldogs maintained the lead throughout the half, though momentum was ever-shifting in the first 45 minutes.
SIU-Edwardsville registered five shots on goal in the half to Drake’s four.
The second half proved to be another story, however.
An early spell of possession and shot for Edwardsville put the Bulldog defense under a bit of pressure, but Drake’s worries were soon alleviated when it regained the ball.
For the remaining minutes of the half, Drake maintained complete control of their own half and allowed but a single shot on goal, a last-ditch effort from far out that gave MacLeod his third and final recorded save of the night.
“It would have been nice to really finish them off with another goal,” Arde said. “But I don’t think there was ever a point in the second half where we thought we might give the game away.”
In contrast, the Bulldogs put consistent pressure on the Cougars and managed five additional shots in the half.
Though none were on-target, the majority of Drake’s closest chances came in the form of crosses into the penalty box.
The Bulldogs also used the entirety of the pitch in their battle with the Cougars, with shots coming from various angles and spots on the field.
Senior Drake midfielder Bryan Jantsch put in an impressive effort in the second half in his right winger position.
“I don’t think there’s a guy like Bryan Jantsch, certainly not in the conference and maybe not in the Midwest, that can run at people one-on-one with the ball,” Drake coach Sean Holmes said in a Drake athletics press release. “Not just occasionally and in spurts but consistently throughout the entire 90 minutes.”
Holmes also praised redshirt freshman Ben LeMay and freshman Mueng Sunday for their play in the midfield throughout the night, and Jarred Arde for his role in the attacking plays.
Drake resumes its season on Wednesday with a road matchup against Loyola University, a newcomer to the Missouri Valley Conference, before returning home for another conference game this Saturday against Bradley.