MACOMB, Ill. – A bit of history was made Tuesday on the soccer pitch at MacKenzie Alumni Field, where Bradley and Western Illinois played to a 1-1 draw, the first tie in the 24-game history of the series against Bradley’s closest NCAA Division I rival.
The fact that Tuesday’s game ended in a draw should not come as a surprise, however, as 12 of the previous 13 meetings had been decided by just one goal.
Junior midfielder Keegan Balle put Bradley (9-5-3) on the board first, scoring his sixth goal of the year on a 25-yard blast in the 17th minute. The Leathernecks (3-8-4) got the equalizer in the 68th minute when Erick Bloom finished off a corner kick sequence from Aaron Appel and Hilary Esangbedo.
Bradley finished the game with a 21-15 advantage in shots and the Braves allowed only two shots on goal in the 110 minutes. Junior forward Wojciech Wojcik had three of Bradley’s six shots on goal, but Leathernecks keeper Yves Dietrich made five saves to preserve the tie.
After playing seven games in the first 23 days of the month, Bradley will have a full week off before returning to action with another in-state road game, Oct. 31 at Loyola-Chicago. The Braves will close out the regular-season by hosting Missouri Valley Conference rival Central Arkansas Nov. 3 at Shea Stadium.