By ERIN O’BOYLE
The Drake Men’s Soccer team traveled to Valparaiso, Indiana on Nov. 3 to take on the Valparaiso University Crusaders. Tensions were high going into this game as this was the last regular season match the Bulldogs would play and would determine if their season continued into the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
After 29 minutes of play, the Crusader’s Mason Marcey scored the one and only goal of the game from both teams. Drake made attempts on the Valparaiso goal throughout the game, but none were successful in getting past the Crusader’s goalkeeper.
Junior midfielder Cole Poppen was relentless in his pursuit of the goal. Poppen had three shots on the goal which included a penalty kick at the 84th minute that was again stopped by the Crusader’s goalkeeper. Drake senior forward Steven Enna and sophomore forward Leroy Enzugusi were other members of the team that had shots on the goal that were ultimately stopped as well. In the end, the Bulldogs fell to the Crusaders, 0-1.
It was first thought that if the Bulldogs didn’t win or tie this game, they wouldn’t be seeded in the MVC tournament. However, the conference match between Evansville and Bradley allowed the Bulldogs to clinch the sixth and final spot in the tournament.
The Bradley Braves fell to Evansville last night which pushed Bradley to a 1-5 conference record, otherwise putting them at the bottom of the standings. Drake is situated right above Bradley at a conference record of 1-3-2, or one win, three ties, and two losses. If Bradley had won against Evansville and bumped up to 2-4, then Drake would have been pushed out of the tournament.
“We were all happy to get into the tournament as it was another chance to showcase what we can do,” Scott Misselhorn, junior defensive player, said. “This season, we have beaten the MVC regular season champions, and tied No. 2 and No. 3, thus there is nothing to say we cannot be MVC tournament champions, come Sunday night.”
The Bulldogs will begin their stretch in the MVC tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. in Evansville, Indiana where they will again challenge the Valparaiso Crusaders.
“Going into Wednesday’s game for the first round of the MVC tournament, one of the things we spoke about was playing higher up the field, to apply more pressure on Valparaiso’s defense,” Misselhorn said. “For the majority of Saturday’s game, we had possession but didn’t take our chances in the final third. In preparation for Wednesday, we’ll be working on making micro changes to ensure we can finish our chances. We feel confident going into the game as we all have a clear picture of what their team will be like.”
The Crusaders and the Bulldogs are no strangers to this pair up in the MVC tournament seeing as they met in the 2017 MVC tournament where Drake beat Valpo 4-2. The winner of Wednesday’s game will play No. 2 seeded Loyola on Friday, Nov. 11 again at 3 p.m.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DRAKE ATHLETICS