Last Saturday, the Bradley Braves soccer team went up against Missouri State, playing their first game without head coach Jim DeRose on the sidelines due to COVID-19 protocols.
Assistant coach Tim Regan took over the reins of the team in DeRose’s absence. With DeRose still in communication with the team, Regan felt the hardest part was simply not having him at training sessions.
“There’s always an impact when the head coach isn’t present,” Regan said. “The challenge is you can’t replace coach DeRose’s energy. It’s unmatched.”
According to Regan, another challenge they faced before squaring off against the 2019 Missouri Valley Conference regular season champions was the bitter cold temperatures Peoria saw last month.
The team could truly only work on conditioning during their break. Despite the short turnaround, Regan said the team moved quickly in order to prepare for their first conference game, especially after not being able to touch a ball for 12 days.
Freshman defender Jackson Fyda felt the intensity of getting back into shape was exactly what he needed.
“Ever since we got back it was just ‘go, go, go,’” Fyda said. “During the break, there wasn’t anything going on, it was a little bit boring. It was nice to get back … I’ve actually found it kind of fun.”
However, Missouri State was too much for the young Bradley team, as it fell 3-0 this past
Saturday. The Braves only managed three shots on goal, all from upperclassmen. Meanwhile, they allowed five shots on goal from the Bears.
While the team didn’t come away with a positive result, Regan felt the team is willing to move forward from the loss after another short turnaround,
“The response [to the loss] has been really good,” Regan said. “There’s been no sulking, no excuses. Getting right back to work is the mentality.”
Starting alongside the only other upperclassman in goalkeeper Bryce Logan, graduate forward Gerit Wintermeyer thinks the heavy-handed loss was a learning experience for the inexperienced squad.
“We don’t have to change much,” Wintermeyer said. “Obviously systems [and] tactics change depending on our opponent every week … The most important thing we took from the game was probably experience and guidance.”
The young team still has a lot to work on, according to Regan. However, he said there is not much it can fix overnight. Instead, their takeaways come from how and why they were scored on in preparation for Evansville.
“We’ll definitely take pointers from the Missouri State game,” Regan said. “In the smaller picture, we look at how did the game go in terms of did [we] coincide early [and] we look at how the goal happened. We analyze those moments.”
Playing at a different venue, the Braves beat the Purple Aces 1-0 on Thursday at Pete FioRito Stadium at Eureka College. Wintermeyer scored the lone goal, marking his first on the year.
Bradley finishes their two-game homestand at 6 p.m. on Tuesday back at Shea Stadium.