The Bradley soccer team continued its offensive hot streak Saturday against conference rival Missouri State.
The Braves won 4-0 over the Missouri State Bears at Shea Stadium last Saturday. Combined with the 5-1 win last week, this makes nine total goals in consecutive games for Bradley, the first time that has happened in 15 years for the program. The +8 score differential is the best ever in consecutive games in Bradley history.
More importantly, the win puts Bradley at 3-0 in Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play, which leaves them tied for first with Drake.
What makes the offensive outbreak even more important is the fact that it came against a Missouri State defense head coach Jim DeRose called one of the best in the nation.
Bradley’s last six games against Missouri State have ended in 1-0 scores. Bradley hasn’t scored more than one goal against Missouri State since 2004.
However, DeRose said his team hasn’t changed anything offensively.
“We’ve done nothing different system-wise,” DeRose said. “When you [get] 70 percent or 80 percent of your shots on target, then good things will happen, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Senior Grant Bell opened the scoring for the Braves in the 27th minute after a pass from sophomore Richard Olson. Six minutes later, freshman Frank Bak was able to beat the Bears’ goaltender for the goal with an assist from Bell to put the Braves up 2-0.
Sophomore Jacob Taylor netted the Braves’ third goal in the 61st minute in impressive fashion. Bak served a corner kick to the front of the net, and Taylor sprinted to the far post, dove, and headed the ball past the goalkeeper. A goal by junior Alex Garcia three minutes later guaranteed the win for the Braves.
“The mentality when trying to score goals has to be that it’s easier than harder,” DeRose said. “Sometimes guys get too worried about putting it in the corner or getting it over the goalkeeper or going hard low, when the reality is that the simplest thing of putting it on target is most important.”
Although the score was lopsided in the Braves’ favor, the shot totals told a different story. Missouri State outshot Bradley 22-8. Junior goalkeeper Logan Ketterer finished with six saves, while Missouri State’s goalkeeper finished with only one.
This is the Braves’ first 3-0 conference start since 2003, but it also gives DeRose’s squad a chance to begin 4-0 in the MVC for the first time ever.
“Although I’m happy about where we are now, it’s not about how you start,” DeRose said. “It’s about how you finish.”
Bradley will go on the road next Saturday for more MVC action in a tilt against Central Arkansas, who has a 1-11-1 overall record.