It was a difficult week for Bradley soccer (1-4) as they lost two home contests this past weekend against DePaul and Utah Valley, both by a score of 2-1.
In Friday’s matchup against DePaul, the Braves fell behind quickly when the Blue Demon’s Jack Richards scored off a rebound on a corner kick in the 11th minute. DePaul then followed the goal up with a quick score in the second half, making it 2-0 in the 53rd minute.
Junior Pepe Mellado scored the lone goal for Bradley off a penalty kick in the 88th minute. It was the newcomer’s first collegiate goal, but it was all the Braves could muster in their defeat.
Despite the loss, head coach Jim DeRose thought the team did a good job bouncing back after giving up a couple of goals early.
“I think we responded well to adversity,” DeRose said. “We went down a goal in the first half and a goal in the second, and once you do that it’s gonna be tough, but we had great resolve [and] spirit.”
Sunday started off better against an undefeated Utah Valley squad, as freshman Francesco Pettinaroli scored his first career goal off a volley in the 19th minute, securing the only goal of the half.
The Wolverines responded in the second half, scoring two goals in the 57th and 68th minute to take a 2-1 lead. The Braves had chances to score down the stretch, but ultimately, two shots on goal by sophomore Jack Douglas in the last five minutes were not enough to equalize the game.
After Bradley was outshot 11-4 in the second half, DeRose recognized the change coming out of halftime and knew it was the difference in the game.
“We came out with great energy,” DeRose said. “In the first half, I thought we did everything we wanted to. We denied them quality scoring chances, we got the goal, we got into some other really good situations, but soccer is a 90-minute game, and we had a bad response out of halftime.”
Pettinaroli thought his team played well, but Utah Valley ended up being too much for them.
“I think it was a very difficult game,” Pettinaroli said. “They were a very good team. We did everything we [could], but it was difficult.”
The Braves have now lost four matches in a row after starting the season with a win over Omaha but none of the defeats have been sizable. Their last 10 regular-season games have all been decided by a goal or ended in a draw, dating back to last spring.
“I think any of our opponents will tell you it’s never gonna be about effort or energy or commitment or any of those intangibles; our guys are always gonna give that,” DeRose said. “Being the youngest Division I team in the country, these are the learning experiences. You’re going to learn a lot more [than] in wins and losses.”
Bradley will suit up tomorrow to start conference play on the road against Drake at 7 p.m.