Drake Garners First Road Win At Missouri State Since 2005, 1-0
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - On the strength of junior Nick Marshall's (Glen Carbon, Ill./Edwardsville) goal in the 76th minute (75:24), the Drake men's soccer team registered a 1-0 road victory over Missouri State (5-8-4, 0-6 MVC) on Friday (Nov. 2).
The triumph was the first for the Bulldogs (5-10-4, 2-2-2 MVC) in Springfield, Mo., against the Bears since 2005 and helped Drake conclude its Missouri Valley Conference slate with a 2-2-2 ledger.
"Tonight was a really nice way to end the regular season, especially on the road in front of the largest home crowd ever at Missouri State," Bulldog head coach Sean Holmes commented. "This was a very useful lesson for us, being outshot 17-3, the third shot being our goal, and the other two being strikes from 35 yards out by Michael (Thaden)."
"Missouri State with a huge crowd is one of the least hospitable places to play in the MVC with a tight artificial turf field and tonight conditions were enhanced by swirling winds throughout most of the game."
Missouri State outshot Drake in the affair, 17-3, including 4-2 on goal, but it was Marshall's second goal of the season that propelled the Bulldogs to victory.
"I was so proud because we have had many games this year where we've played well and not gotten a result," said Holmes. "Tonight we were generally outplayed, we didn't play our usual brand of intelligent, possession-based soccer and still managed to win and that isn't a bad thing. Missouri State before hitting its losing streak in conference play is always a tough team to reckon with. Less than two weeks ago they tied No. 19 SMU on the road, so for us to get out of their place and get a result is awesome."
Cole Alexander paced all players with a game-high three shots for the Bears, while senior Michael Thaden (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley) led Drake with a team-best two shots.
"Michael (Thaden) and Kyle (Whigham) were brave warriors for us once again," Holmes explained. "We got some really great effort in the midfield from Addison (Eck) and Jarred (Arde) as well this evening. It was the second-straight start up front for Brian (Grand) and he proved to be the most dangerous player for us time and time again.""We should have been behind several times in the game, especially in the opening minutes of the second half when the Bears missed three almost rapid-fire chances within the six-yard box."
Redshirt junior Rich Gallagher (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forest Academy) pulled in a game-high four saves for the Bulldogs, while Andrew Riggs made one stop for Missouri State.
"Our back four did a great job of protecting Rich (Gallagher), who himself came up with several tremendous saves," stated Holmes. "Nick (Marshall), Alec (Bartlett), Austin (Reutzel) and Jon (Choda), three of whom are freshmen, were absolutely top class tonight. Their goalie, who otherwise was perfect, bobbled one of our kicks that Nick (Marshall) headed in from two yards out. That Nick (Marshall) scored the winning goal is icing on the cake."
Holmes praised the efforts of several players who came off the bench to provide a spark for the Bulldogs.
"To cap it all off, we had superb effort the last nine minutes up front from Garrett (Crall) and Thomas (Schermoly) and that is what it will take for us to win three games in five days in Peoria. When called upon guys will have to rise to the occasion and jump in and perform."
With the victory, Drake secured the No. 5 seed at next week's MVC Tournament in Peoria, Ill., and the Bulldogs will face a yet to be determined No. 4 seed in quarterfinal action on Wednesday (Nov. 7).
"We wrestled with the reality that we couldn't affect our seeding too much this evening," Holmes commented. "We weren't sure whether we should perhaps rest some players or go out with 100 percent confidence and play everyone and build momentum heading into the tournament. We chose the latter and it paid off."
"This marks a six-week spell since our calamitous outing at Memphis, minus a blip with UIC, we have been tied or ahead at the end of 90 minutes in every game since. I'm proud of the way we've turned our season around since our disappointing 1-7-3 September."