PEORIA, Ill. – It appeared Bradley (1-1-0) might ride the momentum of a goal late into regulation to a “golden” victory Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium, but Western Michigan (2-0-0) dodged a bullet in the extra time before stunning the 25th-ranked Braves, 2-1, for its first-ever win on Bradley’s home field.
Broncos left back Mario Teixeira made a long run, unmarked, into the attacking zone and unleashed a laser across the goal mouth and inside the right post for the sudden-victory winner at 98:22. Western Michigan evened the all-time series against Bradley, 3-3-0, by earning its first win in four tries in Peoria.
Lasers from the left flank on the south end of the Shea Stadium field were the rule of the day. Marco Lobo put Western Michigan on the board in the 27th minute when he collected a ball from Ryan LeMasters on the top left edge of the penalty area, spun on his left foot and hit a tracer into the upper right corner at 26:33. LeMasters also had the assist on Teixeira’s game-winner.
Bradley nearly got the equalizer in the 36th minute when reserve forward Josh Otusanya curled a service from the left flank to the far post, where senior forward Jochen Graf tried to connect with a sliding re-direction, but just pushed the ball right of the post.
Graf was on target in the 83rd minute, however, pulling the Braves even when he rushed in from the left flank to one-time a shot past Broncos keeper Sean Lewis. Junior midfielder Keegan Balle headed across the top of the box to Wojiech Wojcik, who played the ball on an angle to the charging Graf. Wojcik also assisted both of Graf’s goals Friday night in Bradley’s 2-0 victory against Eastern Illinois.
After withstanding a late flurry by the Broncos at the end of regulation, Bradley appeared to put the game away in the second minute of overtime. Wojcik sprung forward Ross Williams with a thru ball from the midfield. With the Western Michigan backline failing to give chase, Williams beat Lewis to the ball at the top of the 18, but his chip past the WMU goalkeeper missed the left post by inches, extending the game.
Bradley will continue its 4-game, season-opening home stand next weekend by hosting Hartwick, Nebraska-Omaha and Mercer in the Hotels at Grand Prairie Invitational. Led by former Bradley associate head coach Brad Ruzzo, Mercer will play the opening game day, Friday at 4:30 p.m. versus UNO and Sunday at noon against Hartwick. Bradley will take on Hartwick in Friday’s nightcap at 7 p.m. and will close the tournament in Sunday’s 2:30 p.m. game against UNO.