Courtesy Bradley Sports Information:
Junior Keith Mach (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) picked an opportune time to net his first career goal, scoring the game-winning strike in the 88th minute to help Bradley to a 3-2 win against #12 Creighton in the semifinals of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship Friday at Shea Stadium.
Bradley (11-8-2 overall) advances to the MVC championship match for the fourth time in the last six years and will be making its first championship match appearance since 2007 after rallying from a 2-0 deficit to upset the Bluejays for the second time in less than a week.
It appeared the Braves had jumped out to an early lead, but an offside call on a Bradley goal at the 23:46 mark kept the match scoreless. Creighton's (12-5-1 overall) Tyler Polak finally broke the scoreless tie when he drove two-thirds of the field before burying a shot from 18 yards into the back of the net in the 31st minute.
The Bluejays struck again less than three minutes later to take a 2-0 lead, when Dion Acoff found Josh Moran for his third goal of the season on a cross from the right side at the 33:19 mark.
Bradley answered quickly when freshman Aodhan Quinn (San Diego, Calif./Mt. Carmel) netted a loose ball in front of the Creighton net to cut the Bluejays lead in half and the Braves went into the locker room at the half trailing 2-1.
Freshman Keegan Balle (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) scored the equalizing goal for BU in the 60th minute, driving home a loose ball off a corner kick from 10 yards out to knot the score at 2-2.
Creighton outshot Bradley 14-4 in the second half, but freshman goalkeeper Brian Billings (Apple Valley, Minn./Shattuck-St. Mary's) made seven second-half saves to keep the Bluejays off the scoreboard after the break. The Braves put two of their four second-half shots on frame with both shots on goal finding the back of the net.
Quinn found Mach with a long ball on the right side and Mach scored his first career goal on a laser from the right side in the 88th minute to give Bradley a 3-2 lead. Billings made two more saves in the final two and a half minutes to complete the come-from-behind victory against the Bluejays. Billings made nine saves in net for the Braves.
Bradley will face SIU Edwardsville Sunday at 1 p.m. at Shea Stadium in the championship match of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The #2 seed in the tournament, SIUE scored two first-half goals en route to a 2-1 victory against Missouri State in the day's other semifinal match.