Freshman Tommy Fritze’s first goal of the season wasn’t enough for the Braves to get past Evansville on Sunday.
After Fritze hit the go-ahead goal, the Purple Aces answered back. They then put the game away with an over-time goal, sending Bradley home with its fifth straight loss.
Coach Jim Derose said he thinks the team can pull out of its slump.
“We just have to keep playing the games,” he said. “Our work ethic is strong, we’re competing. Right now we are not doing little things that are costing us.”
The Braves had won their previous eight games against Evansville.
The loss dropped Bradley’s final conference record to 1-4, meaning the Braves will have the fifth seed in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
“It’s not where we wanted to be and it’s not where we’ve been in a very, very long time,” DeRose said.
The Braves were outshot 25-10 in the game and recorded five shots on goal.
Fritze was the team leader in shots with three, and fellow freshman Keith Mach was the only other player with more than one shot in the game, taking two.
Sophomore Rudy Garcia provided the assist for Fritze’s goal.
Fritze said it felt good to score his first goal.
“It was like the best goal in high school, just 10 times better,” he said.
Junior Chris Cutshaw, the team’s leading scorer, was not able to get a shot off the entire game.
Sophomore goalkeeper Drew Van Kampen has been out with mononucleosis, allowing freshman Kyle Orne to start his second straight game in goal. Orne allowed two scores in 98 minutes.
“He’s really done very well,” DeRose said. “He’s vocal, he gives direction. He’s got my confidence and it will be a great battle if and when Drew comes back.”
Orne said he is starting to feel comfortable in the goal.
“Once you get in, you just kind of go with the flow, work hard and do your best,” he said.
Fritze scored the game’s first goal in the ninth minute to give the Braves a 1-0 lead.
Garcia found Fritze open and he knocked in a header for his first goal.
“He’s probably had three or four near misses all year long,” DeRose said. “It was great for him, he’s a great presence for us in there.”
The freshman’s goal marked the third true freshman to score a goal this season for Bradley.
The Braves didn’t have the lead for long.
The Purple Aces struck in the 20th minute, scoring off a rebound, to even the score at 1-1.
The score stayed the same going into halftime.
After another half of play, the score was still tied 1-1, and the game went into overtime.
Then, with just 2:08 remaining, the Purple Aces’ Tom Irvin snuck a ball past Orne to score the game-winning goal.
Although the Braves have finished conference play, they have one final regular season game against Central Arkansas.
Bradley will take on the Bears at 2 p.m. Saturday in Conway, Ark.