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Soccer’s defense shine in weekend clashes

Kherat (13) is embraced by redshirt-junior David Kovacevic after scoring the second goal of his career. Photo by Kayla Johnson.

The Bradley soccer team extended its non-conference unbeaten streak to 17 games with a win and draw last weekend.

On Friday, the annual Danny Dahlquist Memorial game, the Braves won 1-0 over IUPUI in a hard fought midfield and defensive battle. Defense was a key factor in the victory, as Bradley only allowed one shot on goal the entire game.

The lone goal came from a rocket sent by junior forward Gerit Wintermeyer just outside the penalty box to mark Bradley’s first of the season.

Redshirt senior defender Walid Kherat was proud of the back line’s performance during the weekend.

“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Kherat said. “We always go in with the mentality that if we don’t coincide, we win or tie.”

Offensively, the Braves had a good showing as well having six shots on goal. Head coach Jim DeRose gave a lot of credit to IUPUI’s defense for only allowing one goal.

“IUPUI has an incredibly organized defense,” DeRose said. “We knew it was going to be a close game and it took an unbelievable goal to put us ahead.”

DeRose was also happy that the first win of the season fell on the Dahlquist Memorial Game.

“It was great to get a result,” DeRose said. “It was better to have such a fantastic atmosphere. It was an emotional night, but I was so glad that the Dahlquists could share it with us.”

On Sunday, the Braves hosted Oakland. Emotions ran high as the two teams were shown a total of 11 cards including one red card to Bradley freshman forward Danny Collins. Bradley battled to tie the Golden Grizzlies 2-2.

Sunday’s game had a slow start as both teams were scoreless in the first half of regulation play. DeRose felt that the first half belonged to Oakland.

“They played us off the field in the first half,” DeRose said. “They were clearly the aggressor.”

The first goal came 18 seconds in the second half of regulation. Kherat sent a ball from midfield that bounced over the Oakland’s goalkeeper into the net. The goal marked Kherat’s first of the season.

Kherat was excited to see his goal listed at number nine on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Sunday night.

“I came in with the mentality that I’m not going to mess around,” Kherat said. “I just sent it, it bounced over the goalie’s head and I asked myself ‘Is the goalie going to pick it up?’ and it went in.”

The Braves’ second goal of the match came on a deflection to Wintermeyer when the goalkeeper tried to clear it for his second goal of the season.

However, Oakland found time to tie the game up, scoring two goals in the 59th and 64th minutes.

Despite losing the lead, DeRose was content with the team’s performance.

“The tie was fair result,” DeRose said. “A little bit of unluck but we did the work. They had two guys that did a good job of keeping the ball close and tied it.”

With the draw, the Braves moved their record to 1-0-2.

Bradley wraps up its four-game homestand tonight at Shea Stadium at 7 p.m. against Eastern Illinois and then will travel to Northern Illinois on Sunday for a 2 p.m. kickoff.

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