Bradley senior midfielder Christian Meza drilled the game-winning shot from just outside the penalty area in the 88th minute, lifting the No. 3 seed Braves (14-4-2) to a 1-0 victory versus No. 6 seed SIU Edwardsville (8-8-4) in the second first-round game of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Wednesday night at Creighton's Morrison Stadium.
Bradley, ranked as high as 19 in the national college soccer polls, will face the nation's top-rated RPI team in Friday's second semifinal when the Braves face host Creighton (16-2-0) in a 6 p.m. match. Creighton earned a 1-0 victory Oct. 19 at Shea Stadium in the regular-season meeting, while Bradley has won two of the last three postseason matchups against the Bluejays.
Bradley was awarded its fifth corner kick in the 87th minute and the Braves subbed in forward Wojeich Wojcik before the restart. SIUE cleared away the service from Keith Mach, but defender Bobby Smith regained possession with a run to the endline. Wojcik collected Smith's service and passed to Meza at the top of the box, where the senior unleashed a laser past Cougars goalkeeper Scott Meyer for the game-winner at 87:16.
The goal was Meza's fourth of the season and first game-winner of the year.
While both keepers were stellar between the pipes, both teams hit the framework in the second half. SIUE forward Derek Huffman hit the inside of the right post from an angled shot in the 78th minute and Mach hooked a corner kick service in the 85th minute off the crossbar.
Bradley sophomore keeper Brian Billings earned his second consecutive shutout and fifth of the season by making six saves Wednesday night.
Wednesday's victory further bolstered Bradley's NCAA Tournament resumé. Bradley's fifth consecutive win overall also was the team's eighth win away from home this season, among the best away-from-home win totals in the country. The Braves also have advanced to the MVC Tournament semifinals for the 13th time in the last 14 years.
article courtesy BU Sports Information