The Bradley men’s soccer team was unable to pull out a victory against Rutgers on Senior Night last Saturday at Shea Stadium.
The game was a back and forth affair the whole way. Bradley jumped on top early when junior defenseman Falk Dennert scored his first goal of the year in the sixth minute. However, Bradley’s lead didn’t last long as Rutgers scored the equalizer just over a minute later.
“Those [goals] are probably all born of not being in winning positions a lot of the year,” head coach Jim DeRose said. “For much of the year we’ve been playing a goal down, we’ve been shut out so much.”
This was only Rutgers’ first win of the season, even though they made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament a year ago.
“Truth be told Rutgers has had an unbelievably crazy year with injuries,” DeRose said. “They have six guys out, but the one guy [Jason Wright] that’s not out was an All-American last year, and he punished us.”
Wright scored the first two goals of the game for the Scarlet Knights, the second a free kick from 25 yards out, and assisted on the third as Rutgers went on to win 3-2.
“I think so much of that game has been the story of our season, whether it’s been 1-0 or 3-2,” DeRose said. “We’ve chased the game, we’ve had these near misses late, but unfortunately way more often than not it’s ended up with us on the losing side of it.”
Although the game ended in a loss, it was a special night for the three Bradley seniors, Jason Lesch, Alex Garcia and Logan Ketterer. Lesch and Ketterer have been at Bradley for five years, starting as red shirts, Garcia for four. They enjoyed great success during their early years at Bradley, winning a Missouri Valley Conference championship and going to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2013.
“The last year or two they’ve been the upper classmen in the youth movement,” DeRose said. “Leadership is a difficult thing and there’s only three of them, so I’ve just been really happy with them. Academically, they’re all fantastic. They’re all going to graduate and have jobs and great stuff. I just wish they could have gone out with a more successful regular season campaign. I have nothing but fond memories of their time here, and maybe we can do something special in the conference tournament.”
Bradley’s last game of the regular season comes tomorrow night when they visit Loyola Chicago, who is currently ranked eighth nationally and owns the longest home winning streak in the country.
“If not anything else, I think it’ll be a good picture of what a tournament environment would be[like],” DeRose said. “At this point I think that that experience for our younger guys should be really important.”
Following tomorrow’s game at Loyola, the Braves will prepare for the conference tournament in Springfield, Missouri, where they will square off against Drake in a play-in game Tuesday.
“Drake has beaten us twice in two one-goal, very tight, close games,” DeRose said. “The way I look at it, we have two chances to get two wins at the conference level, and certainly we’re going to pack our bags for a long stay when we go to Springfield.”