EVANSTON, Ill. - Freshman forward Christian Okeke scored his first two career goals, including the golden game-winner with 2:17 remaining in the first overtime, lifting Bradley (5-3-1) to its second road win against a team ranked among the top three in the country in three weeks. The Braves earned a 3-2 win at #3 Northwestern (7-2-0) Wednesday night, 17 days after their 1-0 win at then No. 1 Connecticut.
Northwestern had climbed to as high as number three in this week's college soccer polls by registering six shutouts during its seven-game winning streak, but the Braves took a 2-0 lead, survived the home team's rally to tie and netted the winner in overtime to put three goals on the board against the Wildcats for the second year in a row. Bradley earned a 3-1 win against the eventual Big Ten Conference champions last season in Peoria and now boasts a 5-1-0 all-time record against Northwestern.
Bradley jumped on the Wildcats early and took a quick, 1-0 lead when Okeke took control of a loose ball near midfield and dribbled uncontested to the top of the penalty area and beat NU keeper Tyler Miller with a low shot inside the right post at 8:00 for his first career goal.
After Bradley held an early 4-1 lead in shots, Northwestern turned up the pressure in the second portion of the first half, but could not break through against the Bradley defensee, despite a 7-5 shooting edge at the intermission.
After scoring the game's first goal 8 minutes into the game, the Braves needed just 7:44 of the second half to push the advantage to 2-0. Another Northwestern turnover put the ball at Aaron Birk's feet and the senior forward dribbled deep into the Wildcats end before beeting Miller with a shot from the left flank at 52:44.
Northwestern maintained consistent pressure, however, and the Wildcats finally broke through when one of the nation's top scorer's, Joey Calistri, struck for his ninth and 10th goals of the season at 76:37 and 84:24, respectively.
It appeared the Wildcats might carry the momentum into an overtime win when they fired off a pair of shots from inside the penalty area in the 95th minute, but Bradley keeper Brian Billings made a kick save from a prone position on the ground and the second rebound shot sailed high over the bar.
Following a couple of changes of possessions, Bradley forward Wojciech Wojcik took control of the ball near midfield and sprung Okeke with a pass into the left flank. The speedy freshman won a sprint into the left side of the penalty area and beat Miller with a toe ball for his second tally of the night.
Entering the night having put just 31 percent of its shots on target through the first eight games, Bradley put nine of its 14 shots on frame Wednesday night.
Bradley will have a rare weekend off before returning to action Monday night by hosting Western Illinois in a 7 p.m. game Monday in Faith and Family Fun Night at Shea Stadium.