By ERIN O’BOYLE
The Drake Men’s Soccer Team hosted the Missouri State Bears on Saturday night for their last home game of the season. Before the game began, the five seniors on the team, Paul Cisweski, Steven Enna, Nic Jaimes, Ryan Merideth, Alex Peterson, along with student assistant coach Andrew Blalock, were honored with a special presentation that included their families and Griff.
“Senior night was bittersweet, honestly,” senior Ryan Meredith said. “It was great to have my parents with me because they have sacrificed so much in order to give me the opportunity of playing college soccer.”
The recognition of the seniors wasn’t just for those five seniors and their families, but also for their younger teammates as a way to say thank you.
“The seniors are the heart of the team; they give so much of themselves that words don’t do it justice,” junior forward Cole Poppen commented on senior night. “Last night was a special moment for all of us as they have provided guidance, heart, and an example that we will try to follow for years to come. Pauly, AP, Stevie, Meredith, Blalock, and Nic, we love all of you and can’t wait to see you guys succeed in your next chapters.”
The game began at 7 p.m. at Cownie Soccer Complex where fans were present to watch the team’s last home game. Sophomore Erik Fahner had the first shot of the game at the eight-minute mark, but it sailed high above Missouri’s goal. The first half concluded with the score still being 0-0, but the Bears were leading in shots with a 6-1 advantage.
In the second half, senior midfielder Paul Ciszewski had one shot on the goal, but it was saved by MSU’s goalkeeper. Senior forward Steven Enna had Drake’s second shot on the goal that was ultimately saved as well. Junior goalkeeper Jared Brown had another strong defensive performance throughout the game. With 10 saves, he was able to stop Missouri State’s Josh Dolling, who happens to be the MVC’s leading scorer and had five shots on the goal.
Brown is the top keeper in the MVC so it’s only fitting that he and the top scorer of the league battled it out. After a scoreless 90 minutes, the Bulldogs and the Bears entered into two overtimes. At the end of both overtime periods, both teams still came out scoreless leaving the score at a final of 0-0. This is the same outcome as last year’s season finale between the Bulldogs and Bears as well. Missouri State did end up outshooting the Bulldogs 14-5. MSU’s high number of shots only further proves how hard the Drake Men’s defense worked to keep the game scoreless.
Next Saturday, Nov. 3 the Bulldogs will travel to Valparaiso to finish off the regular season. This game is crucial for Drake in the fact that a Bulldog win or tie will secure them a spot in the MVC Championship.
“We are excited for the challenge that the Valpo game raises as a win would put us into the tournament,” Poppen said. “We will spend the week preparing with film and structured training sessions like any other week, but we all know our season is on the line so I imagine everyone will have an added focus and edge.”
The MVC tournament will be held in Evansville, Indiana, on three separate days: Wednesday, Nov. 7, Friday, Nov. 9, and Sunday, Nov. 11.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DRAKE ATHLETICS