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Bulldogs advance in MVC Championship

Story by Austin Cannon

This time for the Drake women’s soccer team, a tie was just as good as a win.

While the Bulldogs’ MVC Championship quarterfinal game against Loyola was officially a 1-1 draw, Drake was able to advance to the tournament semifinals by beating the Ramblers 4-2 in penalty kicks.

Neither team was able to score during the two overtime periods, so each side sent out five players and its goalkeeper to see who would win the best-of-five shootout.

Senior Paige Dusek, freshman Rebecca Rodgers, sophomore Kylie DeHaven, junior Ashlie Stokes and senior Brittany Schulling all accompanied junior goalkeeper Andrea Swanson for sixth-ranked Drake.

Dusek was first, and her shot toward the lower right corner was stopped by Loyola goalkeeper Monica Gonyo.

Swanson kept the score knotted at zero by keeping Shelby Koch’s shot out of the net.

Both teams converted on their next two attempts. Rodgers and DeHaven each beat Gonyo to her right, and Swanson surrendered two goals to the Ramblers.

With the score tied at 2-2, Stokes stepped up and buried her shot, again, in Gonyo’s bottom-right corner.

After Dusek’s try, Stokes and the other Bulldogs were able to see that that Gonyo was cheating to the right side.

“We knew that she went that way, so we all went left. It was actually a lot easier than we thought,” Stokes said.

For Stokes, the mental aspect of the penalties is what made them difficult.

“They’re so easy, but they’re so hard at the same time,” Stokes said. “We’ve been practicing them because we know that’s what happens when the tournament comes.”

Monika Lee then tried to equalize for Loyola, but her shot sailed over the crossbar.

Drake’s 3-2 advantage meant a goal from Schuling would send the Bulldogs into the tournament semifinal.

For Schuling, it was about avoiding a fate similar to Drake’s defeat to Creighton in last year’s tournament, where the Bluejays beat the Bulldogs 8-7 in penalties.

“I knew, going up to it, that I didn’t want to feel the same way we did last year,“ Schuling said. “I knew that it just had to be different this year. It’s my senior year, so I had to make it.”

The midfielder stepped up to the line, took her approach and sent the ball past Gonyo, igniting a raucous celebration near midfield.

Down 1-0 in the 41st minute, Drake took a corner kick. DeHaven’s kick found Stokes, who headed it into the net to tie the score.

“The goalie actually got a touch on it, but she actually hit it to the back. She couldn’t clear it all the way,” Stokes said.

The game was more or less even, with both teams having their chances to grab the lead.

“I thought, at times, it was definitely in their favor, but, at the same time, we had a ton of chances as well,” Stokes said.

Loyola recorded an 18-12 advantage in shots, nine of them were on goal.

Swanson was forced to make eight saves, including three during the two overtime periods.

After beating the tournament’s No. 3 seed, the test gets even tougher.

Drake is set to play second-ranked Indiana State tomorrow afternoon in Evansville, Ind., at 3:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs lost to Indiana State last Thursday 1-0 in double overtime.

“We’re excited to get another chance at them, because they got, I thought it was, a lucky overtime goal (in) the second overtime,” Stokes said.

The winner will advance to the MVC Championship final on Sunday to face either Evansville or top-ranked Illinois State.

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