Story by Will Thornton
Tuesday night saw the Drake men’s sdoccer team’s five-game unbeaten streak come to a bitter end as the Bulldogs fell to Wisconsin by a score of 3-2.
Drake came out strong after the opening whistle, but the momentum soon fell into the hands of the hosts.
Senior Wisconsin midfielder Nick Janus fired off the first shot on goal just 90 seconds into the match, though it was blocked by the Bulldog defense.
His second effort on the ball proved more dangerous, however. Janus regained the ball in the 13th minute and whipped a pass across goal to find junior midfielder and forward Jacob Brindle, whose position at the far post of the Drake goal gave him the first goal of the match nearly uncontested.
Janus and Brindle continued to be a threat against Drake’s defense, as the duo recorded another shot apiece before the end of the half, with Janus forcing a save from redshirt freshman Drake goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod.
The second half saw the Bulldogs challenge the Badgers physically, with several players combining to rack up seven fouls within the first 15 minutes of the half.
The last of those fouls quickened their demise, as the Badgers earned a free kick about 35 yards from goal.
Senior Wisconsin defensive midfielder Paul Yonga took the chance and fired a well-placed shot into the far corner of MacLeod’s goal, leaving the Bulldog keeper with no chance for a save.
With the Badgers up 2-0, the Drake side kicked it into high gear, recognizing the necessity of high-intensity play.
Ten minutes before the end of the game, junior Drake forward Thomas Schermoly forced a save from the Badger goalkeeper, who parried the ball into the path of Drake redshirt sophomore defender Alec Bartlett.
Bartlett tapped in the rebound for his first goal of the season and brought the Bulldogs within a goal of overtime.
Just three minutes later, however, a controversial call saw the Badgers earn a penalty kick. Janus took the spot kick as his sixth shot of the night and converted it, giving the Badgers a two-goal lead just minutes before the end of the game.
“They had a set piece outside our box, and when they put it in the box we were clearing our lines,” Bartlett said. “Bryan Jantsch went to head it clear, and the referee thought he used his arm, which was up near his head. The referee hesitated, and the line judge was in no-man’s land, so they probably didn’t get a great look at the situation.”
Even though Drake redshirt junior midfielder Jarred Arde pulled out a brilliant goal not a minute later to shrink the deficit to one goal, the final efforts of the Bulldogs proved too little, too late, and the half ended with a final score of 3-2.
Drake head coach Sean Holmes expressed satisfaction with the resolve of the players following their two-goal deficits in the match but was disappointed in the goals allowed in the net.
“Some of the older players have been stepping up in the attacking third lately because they know they don’t need to worry about any trouble in the back,” Holmes said. “After being so good in the back, to give up the kinds of goals we did tonight was disappointing.”
The Bulldogs head into their second conference matchup on Saturday when they host Missouri State University.
Though they have seen their lossless streak broken, Arde said it may have helped more than it hurt.
“The streak was nice and we’re a little let down,” Arde said. “But I think it’s going to be a wake-up call for the rest of the season.”