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Soccer gets back on the right track in the MVC

Originally published October 8, 2010

After stringing together a couple of tough weekends, Bradley soccer pulled together two close wins to wrap up nonconference play.

“It’s always good to have a couple of wins under your belt as you go into a difficult conference slate,” coach Jim DeRose said.

The Braves started the weekend off with their last game at Shea Stadium before Missouri Valley Conference play begins, in a game against Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne.

Bradley squeezed past the Mastodons in overtime on a goal in the 94th minute by freshman Keegan Balle.

He used the back of his heel to slip the ball past IPFW’s keeper to get Bradley in the win column for the first time in two weeks.

“It’s very important to understand there are going to be mistakes from game to game,” DeRose said. “But at the same time there’s going to be a great moment and the freshmen are doing that.”

Junior Bryan Gaul started the scoring for the Braves with a header goal in the 79th minute,  set up on a corner kick from junior Keith Mach.

The Mastodons scored late on their only shot on goal in the game with only 13 seconds left in regulation.

In the Braves’ second game of the weekend, they put together consecutive wins for the first time all season and evened their record at 5-5-1.

After IPFW, Bradley traveled to Houston Baptist to play the Huskies and came away with a 1-0 shutout victory.

Unlike the first game, the Braves didn’t wait for halftime to come around before they got on the board.

Gaul carried on his torrid start to the season with his sixth goal in the 22nd minute off a feed from freshman Aodhan Quinn.

The first half not only saw offense from the Braves, but defense as well.  Bradley held the Huskies off the stat sheet in the first half and didn’t allow a shot on goal until the 55th minute.

“The most important thing we were able to do over the two games was defend pretty well,” DeRose said. “The only shot we gave up on goal against Fort Wayne came with 12 seconds left.  Down in Houston, there were only a couple of shots and they all came in the last 10 or 12 minutes.”

Bradley starts MVC play on the road at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville tonight.

“In the last three years, we’ve had three different schools go the Elite Eight and that says a lot about our conference,” DeRose said. “Right now we’re just trying to, with a young team, prepare each game with what they do and what we do.”