Panthers Defeat Bradley In First Round Of NCAA Tournament, 2-0
Nov. 18, 2005
PEORIA, Ill. - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's soccer team opened first round action in the NCAA Tournament on Friday night with a 2-0 win over Bradley University at Shea Stadium. The Panthers' (14-4-4) victory over the Braves (15-6-1) sends Milwaukee to the second round of tournament for the fourth-straight season.
"This is great stuff," Milwaukee head coach Louis Bennett said. "This team is still an ongoing project, but today we came through with a well-disciplined performance."
Milwaukee used a Bradley mistake to score the first goal of the game, as junior Steve Sperl took advantage of a poor back pass attempt to net the game-winner.
"I was able to take advantage of a mistake," Sperl said, after scoring his third goal against Bradley this season. "It was nothing special, it just seemed like I have played well each time we played Bradley this season."
It happened at the 11-minute mark on a play that started on UWM's side of the field. After Bradley had started a break, sophomore Zeke Dombrowski took control and sent a long ball back to the top of the 18-yard box. At that point, Braves defender Jeff Kellogg misplayed a back pass header and Sperl was streaking in to put in the 12-yard shot past BU goalkeeper Chris Dunsheath.
"Sperl's goal was a very opportunistic one," Bennett said. "He is a very cerebral kind of player who took advantage of an opportunity in that situation."
The Panthers would go on to score one goal in each half, adding an insurance marker in the 51st minute. Sophomore Andre Francois scored for the second time in three games, heading in a goal off the right post on assists from sophomore Tenzin Rampa and senior Neil Dombrowski.
Bradley nearly pulled within a goal just after Francois' score, as Will Shelton sent one off the left post from 20 yards out just minutes after UWM had gone ahead 2-0.
The rest of the story was the UWM defense. The team posted their fifth-consecutive shutout and 12th of the season, tying the program record in the process. Spearheading the effort was freshman goalkeeper Grant Fernstrum, who equaled the school record with his 10th shutout of the season (and fifth-straight) in extending his current scoreless streak to 450 minutes.
The defense fended off 24 Bradley shots in the contest, not allowing the Braves to get very many quality opportunities. Fernstrum made a diving save on the last dangerous chance, fending off a 10-yard blast by Drew DeGurian with 14 minutes remaining.
The Braves kept knocking on the door, but it seemed like Milwaukee's defense was always there to answer and then counter on the other side when asked.
"It wasn't particularly pretty, but we got enough of them today" Bennett said. "We knew they (Bradley) were going to come with it, especially in the last 15 minutes."
The Panthers also missed opportunities to extend their advantage, unable to finish on a few clear-cut opportunities because of Dunsheath's performance, who finished with a season-high seven saves.
He made a great save at the end of the first half, making a stop on a shot from Zeke Dombrowski from the top of the box off a corner kick just before halftime.
After BU teammate Drew DeGurian made a team save on a Francois shot in the 81st minute, Dunsheath was there again to stop Sperl's shot from making it a three-goal game.
The Braves may have had the 24-21 edge in shots in the game, but Milwaukee had 10 shots on goal to the Braves five. Both teams forced six corner kicks, while UWM was whistled for 18 of the 28 fouls in the contest.
With the victory, Milwaukee advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-consecutive season. They will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico on Tuesday, taking on the second-seeded New Mexico Lobos in a game scheduled for an 8 p.m. CST start.