EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Bradley senior forward Jochen Graf scored two goals for the second time this season, leading the Braves (3-1-2) to a 4-1 victory against Portland (2-2-1) to kick off Sunday’s action at the Evansville ProRehab Aces Classic at McCutchan Stadium.
Graf’s performance landed him Offensive Player-of-the-Tournament honors and helped Bradley earn the tournament title. Coupled with Friday’s 1-1 draw against Cincinnati, the Braves finished the tournament with four points on the strength of a 1-0-1 record. Host Evansville knocked off the Bearcats Sunday, but Friday’s game against Portland was cancelled due to inclement weather and the Aces ended the tournament with three points (1-0-0).
Graf, who also scored twice in Bradley’s season-opening win against Eastern Illinois, scored Sunday’s first goal when he collected the ball in the penalty area and beat Pilots keeper Justin Baarts with a shot inside the right post at 25:34. The Braves pushed the lead to 2-0 at 33:45 when junior midfielder Keegan Balle buried his third penalty kick in as many games.
The Pilots went to the locker room down just 2-1, however, thanks to a 39th minute goal by Ben Hemphill, who deposited a rebound at 38:55 for his second goal of the year.
The Braves regained their 2-goal advantage midway through the second half when junior forward Ross Williams scored directly from his own corner kick at 65:31. Graf put the game on ice when he scored on a breakaway at 78:11.
Though he entered the season as Bradley’s active career scoring leader with eight goals and 28 points, Graf’s season-best scoring numbers were 11 points (2010 and 2011) and four goals (2011). Just six games into his senior season, Graf now leads the 2012 Braves with five goals and 11 points. Meanwhile, Balle’s 3-game goal-scoring streak matches the third-longest in program history.
Bradley will participate in tournament action for a third consecutive weekend when the Braves travel to Nashville, Tenn., for the Belmont Bruins Classic. Bradley will take on Lipscomb Friday and the host Bruins Sunday, before closing out its season-long, five-game road swing Sept. 21 at San Jose State.
2012 Evansville ProRehab Aces Classic Tournament Summary
Bradley (First Place, 4 points):
Evansville (Second Place, 3 points):
Luis Enrico Romero
Cincinnati (Third Place, 1 point):
Portland (Fourth Place, 0 points):
Offensive Player of the Tournament: Jochen Graf (BU)
Defensive Player of the Tournament: Patrick Hodges (UE)