The UCA men’s soccer team won its first Missouri Valley Conference Championship on Nov. 12 after defeating Missouri State University 1-0.
Their victory over Missouri State qualifies them to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Nov. 10, UCA faced Bradley University and tied 1-1. The team advanced after a 8-7 penalty kick showdown.
The game started with a goal by senior defender Jacob Taylor from Bradley University, but the lead only lasted 36
Senior defender Blake Stricker made UCA’s first and only goal of the game.
After a game spent in a tie, both Central Arkansas and Bradley made their first seven penalty shots.
Junior midfielder Christian Ilia made the last penalty kick, rounding out the score to 8-7.
“The big thing we did well was we competed seriously. We played them two weeks ago and they beat us 3-0 right
on the same field,” coach Ross Duncan said. “So, we knew we were going to have to come and compete. It wasn’t the prettiest game. I wouldn’t say it was our best performance, but we really competed well. That’s what got us through.”
The victory over Bradley pushed them forward in the conference to play against rival Missouri State.
“They are a team we know very well.” Duncan said. “We’ve played them five or six times over the last calendar year and they are our closest conference opponent. I would say they are our biggest rival in conference. We match up with them. We always play them tight, It’s always a close match one way or another. It just going to be a matter of who’s better on the day.”
UCA scored its game-winning goal against Missouri State after 95 minutes of play. A combination of effort
between freshman Jake Bates, junior midfielder Chris Holmes and sophomore forward Niklas Brodacki led to the goal against Missouri.
Duncan said the team spent a lot of time preparing for this match.
During the game, Missouri State outshot Central Arkansas 10-9, but UCA held a 4-3 edge in shots on the goal.
Brodacki ended the tournament with Tournament MVP honors and senior midfielder Pepe San Roman, Stricker and senior defender Tyler Ridener were named to the All-MVC Tournament team.
UCA will play in the first game of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 16 against Southern Methodist University.