SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Freshman J.T. Kotowski scored for the second time in as many games and Bradley (7-3-2, 1-0-0 MVC) knocked off a defending league champion for the second straight game, opening Missouri Valley Conference play with a 1-0 victory Saturday night at Missouri State (5-3-3, 0-1-0 MVC).
Adding to last year’s 1-0 win against the Bears at Shea Stadium, Bradley has won consecutive games against Missouri State for just the second time (2000-01) in the 25-year history of the series and the Braves snapped a 2-game road losing streak against MSU, the defending Valley regular-season co-champion. Bradley has won three straight overall, including a 3-1 victory against defending Big Ten regular-season and tournament champion Northwestern Wednesday night at Shea Stadium.
Junior goalkeeper Brian Billings used three saves to pick up his third shutout of the season and 12th of his career to take over sole possession of fourth place on Bradley’s all-time shutouts list. Billings also took over sole possession of third place on the school’s career victories list with his 29th win.
Kotowski, whose first career goal was the tying strike Wednesday night against the Wildcats, earned his first career game-winner by finishing off a corner kick sequence in the 32nd minute. Missouri State attempted to clear the service, but the ball ricocheted in traffic and fell to Kotowski, who shot low to beat Bears keeper Andrew Riggs at 31:26.
Bradley will try for its fourth consecutive win overall and fifth straight Valley win, dating back to last season, when the Braves visit SIU Edwardsville. Bradley will return home Saturday to host Evansville in the annual Homecoming game. The 6:30 p.m. game against the Purple Aces will be followed by a fireworks show.