STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Hurt by a 4-0 loss to Butler last week, Drake responded by turning their aggression on the University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos, shutting them out just as badly at home on Tuesday night.
“We gave (Butler) a little too much respect,” redshirt junior Ben LeMay admitted. “We shifted our mentality for the UMKC game and wanted to take the game to them. We came out in a high-pressure formation and just really got after them and it paid dividends with an early goal and then we really just built off that.”
LeMay was also named as the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the week for his play in the wins and his 3.82 grade point average as a pharmacy major.
The Bulldogs also came from behind against the DePaul Demons in a high-scoring contest to improve to 5-2 on the season. Drake has already tied last year’s win total.
After missing the game against Butler, junior James Wypych led the attack against UMKC.
Junior Mueng Sunday got a pass to Wypych in enemy territory, putting a shot on goal in the 25th minute. UMKC goalie Henrik Regitnig made the save, but couldn’t control the ball and Wypych scored his first goal of the game on the rebound.
The lead was extended to two in the second half when Wypych dribbled the ball past the Kangaroos’ defense and beat the keeper.
Less than 10 minutes later, the Bulldogs scored again.
Regitnig made a mistake by his own net, letting the ball roll free. Sophomore Gabe Edel capitalized on the chance and scored the easy goal to put Drake up 3-0.
Redshirt sophomore Nick Manzoni came off the bench to score Drake’s final goal of the game. Regitnig saved a shot from LeMay, but Manzoni got control of the rebound and put it into the back of the net for his first career goal.
Not only was the Bulldog offense clicking against UMKC, but their defense seemed near impenetrable as well. The Kangaroos only managed to fire off four shots, only one of which was on goal.
Drake, on the other hand, had 22 shots, 12 of which were on goal.
Saturday’s test against DePaul proved to be a much tougher test for Drake, but the team was still prepared when the lights came on at Cownie Soccer Complex.
An early goal from freshman Nic Jaimes on LeMay’s second assist in as many games put Drake on top 1-0.
The Demons responded in the 34th minute, tying the match on a through-ball goal from junior forward Erik Rodriguez.
DePaul took the lead on a header from freshman John Freitag. Both of the Demons’ goals came off of assists from Hans Wustling, who now leads his team in assists on the season.
With time slowly ticking down in the second half the Bulldogs turned up the attack, not wanting to have to start conference play coming off of a loss.
The Demons wouldn’t hold the lead for long, as a pass from senior Alex Troester found LeMay for a header goal of his own to tie the match at two.
The tie brought a sense of urgency to each side. Drake was looking for momentum and DePaul was scrambling for their second win of 2015. The game was hard fought and physical throughout, with seven separate yellow cards being given – five to Drake and two to DePaul.
Drake was eventually able to strike while holding off DePaul’s advance. Sunday and Edel connected in the box in the 86th minute for their second assist and goal, respectively, in two games and gave Drake the late 3-2 lead.
No one else would score in the remaining minutes and the Bulldogs walked away victorious.
“It’s something that we can build onto coming up this weekend when conference (play) starts,” defender James Grunert said. “We (need to) focus on what we’ve been building up so far.”
Drake goalie Darrin MacLeod only needed to make one save in the UMKC shutout, but made five against DePaul, just enough to give Drake the win. These performances earned him Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.
The Bulldogs will start the conference season on the road against the Evansville Purple Aces on Saturday night, looking for revenge after they beat Drake last year by a score of 4-1.
“Missouri Valley is always pretty tight, through and through, from top to bottom,” LeMay said. “It’s a matter of being 100 percent focused for every match, never taking a match for granted ,because in the conference any team could beat any team on any given day.”