The cold and poor weather conditions did not stop the Drake Bulldogs Saturday night. As the night went on and the hometown Bulldog crowd shivered in their seats, Drake was able to impose a 2-0 win against Illinois State.
For the first time this season, the Bulldogs have won consecutive games. Last week, the women of Drake soccer hit the road for Indiana and left with their first conference win against Valparaiso—a 1-0 thriller that ended in overtime. Senior Elaine Gorom appeared excited as to how the Bulldogs came out with the win against their conference rivals.
“We really stepped up together as a team [against Valparaiso],” Gorom said. “We really came together as a team and played with a lot of cohesiveness.”
The week between games can be a long one for any team, and identifying what needs to improve and what needs to remain consistent can be key to long-term success. This week, the challenge for the Bulldogs was to keep the energy from the win steady alive—something that’s proved to be difficult for them already this season. Gorom elaborated what Drake needed to do to keep tenacity afloat for Saturday’s match against the Red Birds of Illinois State. “In order to make sure we reach the same result against Illinois State,the biggest thing we need to do is maintain the level of positivity we’ve found, and remember every little thing we do is for a reason,” Gorom said. “Our big thing is making sure we close out games by knowing when to take risks and when to stand our ground.”
Heading into Saturday, Illinois State wasn’t going to let Drake away with an easy victory—and neither was mother nature. From the moment the game kicked off, a steady, icy mist made it difficult for the two teams to get their feet underneath them. With Drake demonstrating the same aggressive offensive that has become their signature, the game moved fast as the ball slid up and down the field. Sophomore Sam Nosler ripped the ball from an Illinois defender—then did the same to another Red Bird less than a minute later. At the end of the first half, the Bulldogs and Red Birds were scoreless.
The Bulldogs relied heavily on the shot-stopping capabilities of standout goalkeeper Kelsie Stone. By the end of a first half that ended in the staunch score of 0-0, Stone had saved two scoring attempts from the Red Birds.
Late in the second half, first-year Allison Walls finally got the Bulldogs on the board, sending a shot from 20 yards out in the 64th minute of play. Drake had been taking the risks, just as Gorom had emphasized about late in the game. A little over three minutes later, sophomore Olivia Bruce delivered the second strike for the Bulldogs. Halie Reznik capitalized on an opportunity from the high right corner of the box—the Red Bird goalkeeper saved the shot from going in, but a layer of rain may have made the ball difficult to collect. Bruce took the risk she saw available—forcing her way through and blasting the loose ball in for the second Drake score of the night.
Head Coach Lindsey Horner spoke after the game on how the Bulldogs got it done.
“Our players did a great job of executing the game plan,” Horner said. “They took our week of training and put it into action. We were organized defensively and didn’t allow ourselves to be caught arriving late and getting played around.”
The Drake Bulldogs head to Loyola of Chicago for another MVC matchup Saturday, Oct. 6 where they hope to extend the streak to three against the Ramblers. The game commences at 7 p.m. and coverage can be found on ESPN3.