In their first Missouri Valley Conference Championship since 2012, the Bears (2-15-1, 1-5-0 MVC) found themselves in a battle of the goalkeepers, each team pushing the other’s keeper to new heights. In the end, third-ranked Drake University came out on top in a 2-0 win over Central Arkansas.
The early portion of the match was even-keeled from both sides. Both teams were unable to connect with the goal after many attempts.
Drake (13-4-4, 6-1-2 MVC) finally caught a break in the 18th minute when senior midfielder Alex Prusa played a ball forward to sophomore striker Gabe Edel, who connected with junior midfielder Ben Lemay for a sliding goal from eight yards out.
Despite the slip, the Bears looked to fire back in the 25th minute. Sophomore midfielder Pepe San Roman coordinated an attack with junior midfielder Alejandro Moquette to send a ball toward sophomore William Woody, who connected a play to junior forward Wes Carson, who caught Drake’s goalkeeper junior Darrin MacLeod on the wrong foot.
Despite the well-orchestrated attack, MacLeod made a correction and got the save. While the numbers showed the Bears lacking in offensives 8-4 with shots against Drake, the Bears’ attacks allowed them to be trailing 3-2 in shots on goal at the end of the first half.
Possession was split nearly evenly with the Bears looking to tie the score in the second half.
Central Arkansas got some early attempts at leveling the score, as San Roman and Woody played balls forward to Carson, with both midfielders unable to find Carson for a scoring opportunity.
Despite the Bears’ defensive play, a miscue in the 58th minute opened some space on the field and allowed Drake to fire a shot on goal that resulted in another point for the Bulldogs. UCA freshman striker Joey Kampmann made a long shot in the 65th minute that sailed just wide of putting the Bears on the board.
As the clock wound down, Central Arkansas put up a fight with a barrage of scoring opportunities around the 73rd minute.
San Roman sailed one high, and junior defender Jordan Bates nearly knocked in a header off a corner kick from senior forward Daylon Schiffel, but MacLeod made the save. Woody came out hot in the 77th minute with a scoop of Drake’s wall after a free kick from Moquete from 25 yards out. Despite the offensive, MacLeod brushed the laser just high of the crossbar. Kampmann looked to score again in the 87th minute from a distance with a shot that sailed just wide.
As the final horn blew, the Bears found themselves with 11 shots on goal for the day led by Woody, who was two for two. Carson and Bates each had one shot on frame. Despite the loss, sophomore goalkeeper Harrison Veith made six saves against the Bulldog offensive.
Although Kampmann was disappointed about the final result of the season, he hopes to be a major part of the offense next season.
“We have a very strong team coming back next year and the Valley better be ready for us,” he said.
The Bears’ season ends with an overall record of 2-15-1. The Bears have high hopes for next season with a fresh class of recruits and a populated returning starting lineup.
Senior goalkeeper Taran Meyer said although his time with the Bears is done, he has high hopes for next season’s success.
“This season was tough. By no means would anyone say it was successful. Yes, we had our ups and downs, just like any season. The cool thing about this season is we never gave up on each other,” he said. “We were always wanting to fight for the guy next to us. We worked hard week in and week out. Now the only place for us to go is up. There’s a busy offseason ahead to try and get better as a group.”
This article appeared in the Nov. 18, 2015 print edition of The Echo.
image via ucasports.com