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Braves tumble on the road; look to regain footing at home

Bradley goalkeeper Bryce Logan dives for a save. Photo courtesy of Jill Catus/Bradley Athletics

After a thrilling win at home to start the season, the Bradley soccer team came out of the gate looking to capitalize on the good start, but a pair of tough contests on the road has Bradley looking for something more as they return home.

The road trip started last Thursday when the Braves squared off against Wright State, an NCAA Tournament team from two years ago.

It was a tough fight which saw the Braves give up two early goals before getting one themselves in the 50th minute by sophomore forward Danny Collins. After that, it was a series of nothing but close shots as the Braves comeback fell short at a final score of 2-1. 

“They were a big, athletic team,” Collins said. “But we responded well in the second half and probably should’ve won or drew.”

After the loss, the Braves headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma — the longest the Braves will have to  travel during the regular season — to take on Oral Roberts. The Braves had eight shots on goal opposite of the Golden Eagles’ 13. 

The Eagles would score on a penalty kick from Dante Brigida, which would be the lone goal of the contest, and the Braves dropped their second straight to move to 1-2 on the young season. Despite the loss, Bradley head coach Jim DeRose complimented the young group’s performance. 

“I thought we did a lot of good things with the ball today,” DeRose said after the game on Twitter per @BradleySoccer. “But the most important thing you can do with the ball is score.”

While the latter has only happened twice this season in three games, it was evident during the road trip that DeRose believes his players have been putting in great effort so far, but getting that effort to match the box score has been the troublesome part.

“I think if you look at it, it does come down to [the fact that] you have to get shots before you get goals, so we may have to creep up those numbers to 10-13 shots per game,”DeRose said. “We just have to be more risk-takers and willing to take shots.”

The men now return home for two contests against DePaul tonight and Utah Valley on Sunday. It should be a good tune-up for the team, and the chance to get two victories at home could see the Braves with a winning record entering MVC play.

“We showed against Omaha that we can compete, so we just need to get wins, and when we get wins, we’ll get more confidence,” DeRose said.

The Braves will be in action tonight when they host DePaul at Shea Stadium starting at 7 p.m.

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