On Sunday, Oct. 8, the Drake women’s soccer team took on Valparaiso University at home in a game that would put the Bulldogs in the lead in Missouri Valley Conference play. Alongside this, the win would kick off a five-game winning streak that is still active at the time of publication.
Going into this game, the stakes were high for the Bulldogs. The team had previously struggled against the Beacons in past seasons and were looking to secure a win during Parent’s Weekend to put themselves back on the map.
“We have struggled to score against Valpo the last few years, and when we conceded a goal against the run of play, our players could have reacted several different ways, but they stayed resilient,” head coach Lindsey Horner said.
In the first half, both teams juggled possession of the ball as they worked to put a score on the board. The Bulldogs hoped to be the first to score, but Valparaiso forward Peyton Evans was assisted by forward Lauren Cook for a Beacons goal to kick off the game.
Valparaiso would maintain this 1-0 lead as they worked to drain the clock into halftime. They would be successful with this, but the Bulldogs were getting antsy for a goal.
“I felt we were incredibly goal-hungry coming out at halftime and created some great looks to score,” Horner said.
The second half is where both teams came out ready to fight, and this time, it wouldn’t be the Beacons controlling the field. Even though the Bulldogs had a hard time scoring in the first half, forward Emma Nagel broke the ice with a clean goal off of a penalty kick that would even the score and give Drake the boost it needed to pull ahead.
Just seven minutes later, midfielder Angela Gutierrez was assisted by the Bulldog duo of midfielder Madelyn Smith and forward Layla Kelbel for Drake’s final score of the game that would evidently secure the win for the Bulldog pack. The final score was 2-1, and morale was through the roof.
“I thought we started a little nervous, but as the game went on, we settled in and were able to play the game our way,” midfielder Maria Cervelló said. “We conceded first, but that did not break our rhythm. We came back in the second half with a clearer vision. We have been in that situation before and had a lot of trust in the game plan and one another. It felt really good getting an important win against a team who has always been a tough opponent for us.”
With this win, Drake had moved into the lead of the MVC with a record of 4-1-1, a position they’ve worked to defend ever since.
This game had elevated importance as the Beacons have been a long-time rival of the Bulldogs, and being able to come back from an early deficit to take them down was a hefty accomplishment.
Recent wins like this one help prove the power of a strong program, and hopefully for the Drake Bulldogs, this momentum doesn’t stop any time soon.
As of Oct. 25, the women’s team is 8-1-1 in the MVC, which helped them clinch the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming MVC Tournament.