MACOMB, Ill.– An unusual 2 p.m. kickoff time on the Monday after daylight saving time brought the Bradley Braves (6-6-4) onto John Mackenzie Alumni Field to take on the Western Illinois Leathernecks (4-12-1). With the sun just about to go down behind Brophy Hall and only seconds remaining in the second half, Bradley’s Gerit Wintermeyer took a ball in front of the goal, went left and then fired it past Western Illinois’ Tim Trilk for the game-winner with just 28 seconds to go.
Early on, this one was back and forth. You could say it was even down to individual touches. As soon as it looked like Western Illinois had cleared the ball away, Bradley quickly regained possession, and vice versa.
Despite the way the pace played out, it would be the Leathernecks that found the hole first, with Ryan DeBois finding the goal with only about 10 minutes in the books.
After the goal from DeBois, it turned out to be more of what had been happening earlier, a battle for possession.
As the first half wound down, the visiting Braves saw numerous opportunities on corner kicks, but they were not able to convert any, at least in the first 45 minutes. Halfway through, the Leathernecks were holding on to a 1-0 lead.
The second half got off to a much quicker start, with Western Illinois’ Cesar Cosio booting a shot wide just seven seconds in.
Then, without missing a beat, Bradley got right back to the corner kick game, taking plenty of them. Naturally, they’d be bound to convert on one of many opportunities, and that’s exactly what happened when Braves freshman Devin Slingsby scored his first career goal at the 57:10 mark of the game.
One thing is for certain: the pace of play changed in the second half. Plenty of shots and fouls, but it looked like this game was headed for extra time, with the closest opportunities for both sides being a corner kick here and there, just not at the clip that Bradley was getting them earlier in the game.
Yet with the thought of extra time looming large, and the sun, well, not looming large, fans could feel the intensity build as the seconds ran off.
With only 28 seconds remaining, the aforementioned goal from Bradley’s Wintermeyer found the net. The Leathernecks needed to hurry if they wanted to at least force overtime, but 28 seconds was just not enough time, and the game went final, 2-1, in favor of the Bradley Braves.
The loss is behind the team now, and enables them to look forward to an exciting Saturday night road game at the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles on Saturday at 7 p.m., as this one is for the top seed in The Summit League Tournament. All of three points separate these two squads, so you won’t want to miss it.