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Soccer falls in home opening tournament

Originally published in the September 24, 2010 issue

Bagpipe music filled the air as the Bradley soccer team took the field for its home opener versus Darthmouth to a crowd of 1,204 fans.

The Braves have been riding high since starting the season 3-1-1 away from Shea Stadium, including a 7-1 beatdown of Alabama A&M five days earlier.

Coming off an NCAA Tournament berth, the Big Green of Dartmouth proved to be too much for the Braves, who lost the match 2-1 to drop their season record to 3-2-1.

Dartmouth tested Bradley’s defense early and often with a barrage of shots. Junior keeper Kyle Orne and sophomore defender Tapiwa Machingauta were able to clamp down Dartmouth the first half, besides the Big Green getting seven shots.

The Braves’ offense was not as prolific, only mustering three shots in the first half.  During the whole first half of the match, no team was able to get a shot on goal.

After halftime the Braves kicked up their offensive efficiency kicked it up a notch with eight more shots, while the Big Green played with the same consistency of the first half and again had seven shots.

That consistency would pay off for the Big Green in the second half.

Eight minutes in, the offensive drought ended. Bradley junior Bobby Smith threw in the ball towards junior Tommy Fritze, who headed the ball off of the goalkeeper’s hand and into the net, but that would be the last time Bradley scored.

“If you’re up 1-0 at home with 25 minutes to go, the worst you should do is come out with a draw,” coach Jim DeRose said.

Fourteen minutes later, Dartmouth’s Walker Linares threw in a ball near Bradley’s goal. The normally sure-handed Orne bobbled the ball and Colin Skully was able to tap it in for the tie.

Orne, who already has 16 saves this season, didn’t have a single save the whole night.

The Dartmouth offense struck again 6 minutes later. After failing to clear a free kick, the ball bounced to Darthmouth’s Kevin Dzierzawski who drilled a kick just beyond the penalty area to notch the score up to 2-1.

The only save of the game would come from the Big Green’s goalkeeper with just 7 minutes left. Junior Christian Meza fired a shot from the top of the box that hit the pole as Dartmouth’s goalkeeper dove in its direction.

Even though the goalkeeper did not lay a finger on the ball, he was credited with the save.

In the waning minutes, down one, Bradley had three corner kicks and five set plays very close to Dartmouth’s goal.

But it had been all night, the Braves got chances on offense but did not capitalize.

“That’s an NCAA tournament team, and I thought we battled,” DeRose said. “But unfortunately, we made a couple of errors, and our goalkeeper didn’t make a save tonight.”