The Bradley soccer team came out with a strong showing for its final regular-season home game, which was also senior day, defeating the University of Central Arkansas, 3-0, on Oct. 28.
The best first half of the season would give the Braves the needed momentum to ride out the entirety of the match against the Missouri Valley Conferences runner-up.
Bradley scored all three goals in the opening 45 minutes of action from three different players in three different positions, and it all kicked off with freshman midfielder Younes Dayekh.
Dayekh got on the board in the 25th minute after receiving a long-ball effort from senior defender Falk Dennert. This was his fifth goal and fourth game-winner of the season.
Gerit Wintermeyer, a freshman forward from Germany, extended the lead to 2-0 in the 37th minute when he headed in a ball to the far post from a long-distance throw-in from senior defender Jacob Taylor.
This was Taylors fourth assist of the season, many of which resulted from his long throw-ins. Taylor didnt shy away from giving credit to his teammates for finding the end of his throw-ins and dropping back when on the wrong side of the ball.
I give all the credit to the guys. I aim my throw far ahead and they do the hard work, Taylor said. Clark Emerson and I have gotten into a good rhythm of where to position the ball, depending on where the opposing teams defense is set up. Our coaches also make sure that our midfielders and forwards drop back when we lose it off the throw, too.
Sophomore forward Roman Schindler was able to finish off the Bears when he scored the final goal of the day in the 45th minute, ending it at 3-0.
Senior defender Clark Emerson was able to provide the assisting pass, which found its way loosely into the box to Schindler. It was the Austrians team-leading sixth tally of the season.
The start of the second half would prove difficult for Bradleys defense, but they remained strong until the end, as graduate goalkeeper Brandon Barnes made five saves for his eighth clean sheet of the season. The Braves edged the Bears with a 16-11 shot count advantage.
This in-conference victory would improve the Braves overall record to 9-7-1, and 3-3-1 in MVC.
Bradley then travelled to play against its local rival, the University of Western Illinois, in the second-to-last regular season game at John Mackenzie Alumni Field on Tuesday, Oct. 31.
The game ended as a 0-0 draw. Both teams, however, combined for a total shot count of 40 attempts, making for an intense game. The Braves held the advantage by the end of the night with 22 shots, 10 on-target, while the Leathernecks had 18 shots, three on-target.
Taylor noted that he and his teammates are confident in obtaining the third seed in the MVC.
Were excited [for the MVC Championship], Taylor said. We had a lull within the past few games before Central Arkansas. But now, our defense and offense are hitting stride, and I think the tournament will have very wide open play, where the games could go either way.
The Braves will conclude their regular season at Valparaiso University on Saturday at 1 p.m. in a conference matchup to potentially secure the third seed for the upcoming Bradley-hosted MVC Championship.