Originally published November 12, 2010
After a rocky start to the regular season, the soccer team has righted the ship.
Before the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, the Braves finished the regular season with a win over No. 10-ranked Creighton last Saturday.
But on Wednesday, the season started over when the single elimination tournament began to determine the MVC winner.
Bradley drew Drake in the four-five matchup in the first round and didn’t waste time getting on the offensive despite the balmy temperature.
“Tonight is the perfect climate,” coach Jim DeRose said. “It’s really when you get down to the 20s and 30s that it has a tremendous affect and the ball gets harder. Right now we’ve had beautiful weather all fall.”
In the first 10 minutes of action, the Braves forced four shots on goal, including two from freshman Aodhan Quinn.
Quinn led the Braves with five shots and junior Bryan Gaul had four.
Gaul, who leads the MVC in goals scored with 12, was kept off the scoresheet.
“One of the things we asked Bryan to do was to come up deeper in the midfield to meet the ball and the defenders did a good job of going with him,” DeRose said. “After that we told him to take their defenders up higher and it allowed Rudy [Garcia] and [Keith] Mach to get some touches. Bryan is one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached and he doesn’t need much coaching.”
In the 28th minute, the Braves found the back of the net for the only goal of the game.
Junior Christian Meza scored from the top of the box and was assisted by Quinn.
The Braves started the second half with more offensive pressure before giving way to a Drake surge.
A Drake shot 12 minutes in led to a great save by freshman keeper Brian Billings.
“He’s playing beyond his years and he’s progressively got better with which game,” DeRose said. “He’s got great confidence right now and goal keeping is all about confidence.”
Next up for the Braves are the Creighton Bluejays in the tournament semifinals.
“We just played them Saturday and were fortunate to get what I call probably [this team’s] biggest win,” DeRose said. “I think it would be for us to play with energy but we’re really going to have to keep a bunch of dangerous players at bay.”