STORY BY COLTON WARREN
The Drake women’s soccer team traveled to Normal, Illinois to face Evansville in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship semifinal Friday, falling to the Purple Aces, 2-0.
“Evansville was better than us on the day,” said Drake head coach Lindsey Horner. “We didn’t test their keeper enough and didn’t make good use of the ball and the space they gave us.”
Drake and Evansville battled a scoreless first half before Evansville broke the tie late in the final minute of the opening period.
Bronwyn Boswell put Evansville up one at the half after she beat Drake goalkeeper Kylynn Moyer at the 44:18 mark.
Drake was outshot 12-4 in the first half.
Evansville extended their lead when Montana Porteneir found the net in the 74th minute.
Horner attributed much of the Bulldog offensive struggles to a solid Evansville defense.
“Evansville is very organized and hard to break down,” Horner said. “They are committed to getting immediate pressure on the ball and condensing space. They’ve only allowed 10 goals all year and have the MVC defender and goalkeeper of the year.”
Moyer collected five saves for Drake. A pair of four-shot performances from senior Ashlie Stokes and sophomore Rebecca Rodgers led the Bulldog offense.
Boswell recorded a game-high seven shots for Evansville.
The shutout marks the second for Evansville against Drake in as many matches this season, with the first coming on Sept. 28 at Drake.
“Evansville was a bit cleaner, a little faster and performed better than us on the day,” Horner said.
The Bulldogs finished 9-9-2 on the season and advanced to the conference semifinals for the second consecutive year.
“I’m proud of our team for the year we had,” Horner said. “It stings to be so close to competing for a championship, and to let that opportunity slip away without our best showing, but, overall, we fielded a team that was competitive and got better throughout the season.
“We wanted to be playing for an MVC championship, and we were one win away from that. I hope getting so close, yet not quite reaching our goal, motivates our returners to improve as players, athletes, contributors and leaders,” Horner said.
Several Bulldogs were awarded MVC season honors following the tournament.
Stokes and Rodgers both earned first-team all-MVC honors.
For Rodgers, it is her second All-MVC honor in just two seasons after being named to the second team last season. She led Drake in goals (12), assists (8) and game-winning goals (4). Rodgers recorded just the second hat-trick in program history against Indiana State Oct. 30.
Stokes recorded 12 points on the season with four goals and four assists for the Bulldogs. She scored two goals, including the game winner in Drake’s 3-2 win over Loyola Nov. 2 to advance to the MVC semifinal.
Juniors Kylie DeHaven and Rhian Pritchard earned All-MVC second-team honors, while defender Kasey Hurt and goalkeeper Kylynn Moyer were named to the MVC All-Freshman team for their impressive first season.
Stokes and sophomore Kayla Armstrong were named to the MVC All-Tournament team, the conference announced Monday.
“Rodgers and Stokes are such impact players, so I’m happy for their recognition,” Horner said. “Pritchard and DeHaven’s contributions have grown this season, and Hurt and Moyer had good first years.”