Returning from its longest road swing in a decade, Bradley will try to snap a 2-game losing streak Friday when the Braves host first-time opponent Northern Kentucky at Shea Stadium ... The Braves have not played in front of the home fans since a 3-2 victory versus Nebraska-Omaha Sept. 2 and went 2-2-1 during their 5-game road trip ... Saturday is Kids Take Over The Stadium Night at Shea Stadium: free youth soccer skills clinic from 10-11:30 a.m. for kids ages 5-12 (register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org); Free admission for clinic participants and Central Illinois Soccer Academy summer campers; Special opportunities for kids include guest PA announcer, ball kids, halftime games and more; Postgame autographs with the Braves; and Ticket Fundraiser Night.
Game 10 | Northern Kentucky (2-6-0) at Bradley (4-3-2)
Saturday, Sept. 29 | 7 p.m. | Peoria, Ill.
Shea Stadium | Tickets
Twitter: @BPtheBrave | #BRADvNKU
|Game Promotions||Kids Take Over The Stadium Night|
|Bradley Links||Game Notes (PDF) | Roster | Schedule | Statistics|
|Northern Kentucky Links||Game Preview | Roster | Schedule | Statistics|
The Program: Now in its 26th season as a NCAA Division I program, Bradley enters the weekend with a 236-240-46 (.496) all-time record ... The Braves boast a 178-115-35 (.596) record since the start of the 1997 season and have finished at least .500 overall in 13 of the last 15 seasons, while averaging 11.6 wins per season ... Coming off consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in program history, Bradley has made six all-time NCAA Tournament appearances, all since 2000 ... Bradley has produced 13 All-Americans, including the only four-year All-American in Missouri Valley Conference men’s soccer history (Gavin Glinton), as well as 13 scholastic All-Americans.
Head Coach Jim DeRose: Jim DeRose is in his 17th season at the helm of the Bradley program and enters Friday’s game with a 185-126-35 career coaching record ... DeRose’s 185 victories at Bradley represent 78.4 percent of the program’s all-time win total.
Series Information: Saturday’s game will be the first-ever meeting between Bradley and Northern Kentucky ... The Braves are 4-1-0 all-time against members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, including a 2-0-0 home record against the A-Sun ... Bradley is 1-0-0 against the A-Sun in 2012, pulling out a 2-1, overtime victory against Lipscomb Sept. 14 in the opening game of the Belmont Bruins Classic in Nashville, Tenn. ... The Braves have not played a home game against an A-Sun opponent since earning a 3-0 victory against Mercer Sept. 6, 2009 in the final game of the Busey Bank Kickoff Classic.
First-Time Opponent: Northern Kentucky becomes Bradley’s fifth, first-time opponent this season ... The Braves are 2-1-1 in their first four games against first-time opponents this season, most-recently dropping a 3-2 decision last Friday at San Jose State ... Bradley is 26-12-3 (.671) all-time when playing at home against a first-time opponent, includuing a 14-3-2 (.789) record in first-ever matchups played at Shea Stadium ... Bradley was 1-0-1 against first-time opponents Hartwick (1-1 draw) and Nebraska-Omaha (3-2 win) during the Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at Shea Stadium.
About Northern Kentucky: Northern Kentucky has transitioned from NCAA Division II status and is a first-year member of the Atlantic Sun Conference ... Though the Norse bring a 2-6-0 record to Peoria, Northern Kentucky is working on a 2-game winning streak, which has been accomplished against 2012 Bradley opponents Belmont (2-1) and Western Illinois (1-0) ... Northern Kentucky has yet to play a home game this season: the Norse are 2-5 in true road games and 0-1 on neutral fields ... NKU has scored just six goals in eight matches, including two each from Nick Toney and Mohammad Salhieh.
Three-Year Records: During the first consecutive NCAA Tournament years in program history, Bradley racked up 26 combined wins in 2010 (11-9-3) and 2011 (15-6-2) ... Five weeks into the 2012 season, Bradley has 30 wins in its last three years ... The school-record for wins in a three-year period is 41.
Welcome Home Braves: Saturday’s game will be Bradley’s first home game in 27 days since its 3-2 win Sept. 2 versus Nebraska-Omaha ... The 27 days between home games is Bradley’s longest stretch since a 28-day break in 2002 when the Braves hosted New Mexico Nov. 23 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in their first home game since a 2-1 loss to #11 Creighton Oct. 27 ... The regular-season break is the longest since the 1999 season, when the Braves also went 27 days between a Sept. 18 win against Valparaiso (4-0) and an Oct. 15 loss to Evansville (1-0).
Injury Bug Biting: The injury bug has taken a big bite out of the Bradley lineup recently ... Senior forward Jochen Graf, who shares the MVC lead with five goals, went down with a quad injury early in the Sept. 14 game versus Lipscomb and has not played in the last two games ... Junior forward Wojciech Wojcik, who shares the league lead with four assists, rolled his ankle minutes into last Friday’s game at San Jose State and is questionable for Saturday’s game.
On the Offensive: Having built a reputation as one of The Valley’s top defensive teams, Bradley has gone on the offensive through the first half of the 2012 season ... The Braves lead The Valley in shots (143), points (46) and goals (16) ... Individually, senior forward Jochen Graf leads The Valley in shots (26) and shots per game (3.71), as well as points per game (1.57), while sharing the league lead with five goals ... Junior midfielder Keegan Balle leads The Valley in points (12) and joins Graf in a 3-way tie for the league lead with five goals ... Junior forward Wojciech Wojcik shares the league lead with four assists.
PK Specialist: Just nine games into the season, junior midfielder Keegan Balle already has converted four penalty kicks this season ... Balle drilled his fourth PK of the season last Friday at San Jose State and he now leads The Valley with 12 points and shares the league lead with five goals ... With penalty kick records dating to 1999, Balle already has equalled the most PK conversions in a season in program history.
Bradley PK Goals in a Season
Streaking Braves: Senior forward Jochen Graf started the season by scoring each of Bradley’s first three goals, then added an assist in the third game of the year ... Including Bradley’s two 2011 NCAA Tournament games, Graf had contributed a point in five consecutive games, matching the fourth-longest streak in program history ... Junior midfielder Keegan Balle picked up where Graf left off by scoring a PK goal in the Sept. 2 win against Nebraska-Omaha ... Balle scored a goal in four consecutive games, the first three on PK’s, to match the second-longest goal-scoring streak in program history.
Billings Hits Double Digits: Junior goalkeeper Brian Billings continues to climb Bradley’s career goalkeeping record lists ... He is tied for third in school history with a 1.15 goals against average, fourth with 26 career victories, fifth with 10.0 career shutouts and fifth with 4,546 career minutes played.
New Turf Debuted Friday: Not only does Bradley’s lineup feature 12 newcomers, but the Braves debuted a new playing surface on opening night ... Bradley killed off the old bluegrass and rye grass combination in May and re-seeded the Shea Stadium surface with a Midwestern strain of Bermuda ... The heat-resistant grass thrived during the summer drought.
Looking Ahead: Bradley will face a stiff test in its final non-conference tuneup before opening its Missouri Valley Conference slate ... The Braves will host nationally-ranked Northwestern Wednesday night at Shea Stadium ... The Wildcats (6-1-2) are ranked as high as No. 12 in this week’s national polls, though Northwestern saw its season-opening, 8-game unbeaten streak end with a 2-0 loss to DePaul Wednesday night ... Wednesday night’s game will be preceded by the fourth-annual Bradley Soccer Game Day Luncheon at The Lariat Steakhouse ... Head coaches Jim DeRose and Tim Lenahan will be the featured speakers ... Contact the Braves Club Office at 309-677-2667 to purchase tickets ($20 for Braves Club members, $25 for non-members).
Homecoming Activities: Former Bradley Soccer players are organizing a reunion during Bradley University’s annual Homecoming weekend Oct. 12-13 ... Weekend activities will include an Alumni Game Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. at Shea Stadium, followed by a luncheon at the team’s clubhouse and tailgating prior to the soccer game versus Evansville ... The game against the Purple Aces will be followed by a fireworks show.