The Bradley soccer team ended its non-conference slate last weekend with two away games against Northern Kentucky and Western Illinois. These matchups move the Braves to an overall record of 6-6-4.
NKU won on its home turf 5-0 Friday and the Braves downed WIU 2-1 Monday night.
Head coach Jim DeRose touched on why the schedule fell the way it did this season with a break in the heat of conference play.
“The Missouri Valley gives us our schedule,” DeRose said. “Every team had their break, it was just up to us to play games or not.”
On Friday, defensively, the Braves did not perform as well as usual, allowing a total of 18 shots, 10 of which were on goal.
Bradley’s defensive woes did not stop there. The first goal came early in the 6th minute by NKU sophomore Alex Willis. This would be the only goal until the 70th minute. From then on, NKU’s offense would score three more before the end of the game.
Offensively, the Braves only managed seven shots, only three of which were on goal.
DeRose noted that this game was an opportunity to give others some playing time and said inexperience was the reason for the result.
“We made the decision to rest some players,” DeRose said. “We wanted to give a lot of the players that haven’t played some minutes. It was certainly not the result any of us wanted. They weren’t at fault, we just didn’t have experience there.”
Upon returning to Illinois, the Braves played at Western Illinois and came out victorious, 2-1.
This game was much more closely contested, and DeRose went back to the starters.
“We wanted to stay with our first group,” DeRose said. “It was important at that time to get the starters time.”
Defensively, the Braves returned to form by only allowing eight total shots the whole match.
WIU struck first in the 10th minute off a corner with a goal from junior Ryan DeBois. This was the only goal in the first half.
In the second half, freshman Devin Slingsby tied it with his first career goal. He was assisted by sophomore Nick Feeney.
The game remained tied into its final minute, but junior Gerit Wintermeyer headed in the go-ahead goal making in 2-1. Freshman Rasmus Smidtslund and senior Jack Lang were credited with assists.
“WIU scored an early goal,” Wintermeyer said. “At that point I didn’t want to go into overtime. I was thinking to try to score a goal off the cross and I got lucky.”
Looking ahead to their next matchup against Evansville on Saturday, DeRose touched on what they need to do to come away with a result.
“For us, there won’t be complacency,” DeRose said. “We’ll have to do well in the counter and in set pieces.”
Wintermeyer echoed the sentiments of his coach.
“Offensively, we need to be cleaner,” Wintermeyer said. “Set pieces are going to help us from now on.”
The Braves wrap up the regular season at home against the Aces on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.