FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s men’s soccer team had played seven games entering Wednesday night, and four of those games had been decided by just one goal. The Warriors played yet another tight game against Bellevue University on Wednesday and came away with a draw.
The Warriors (4-3-1 overall, 0-1 GPAC) and the Bruins (5-7 overall) did battle for 110 minutes, but neither team managed to find the net as the two sides settled for a 0-0 tie in two overtimes.
“Bellevue is a game on the schedule that we always look forward to, and tonight lived up to the hype once again,” said Midland head coach Raphael Martinez. “It was a very intense game that required maximum effort and focus, and I thought we showed that tonight.”
Midland has played multiple games this season in which they outshot their opponents by a large margin, but this game didn’t fit that mold as the Warriors only managed nine shots compared to Bellevue’s seven. What was astonishing was the amount of shots that were on target. Four of Midland’s shots were on goal, as were three of Bellevue’s, which forced each goalie to be on their respective games.
Bellevue’s AJ Jarvis entered the game as one of the better keepers on Midland’s schedule. Jarvis had been a part of four shutout wins so far in this season and had made 31 saves entering the contest.
Seeing Jarvis make four more saves on Wednesday was no surprise. His best of the game came early in the first half when a he leaped to deflect a header attempt from Midland’s Diego Konincks. The junior keeper just got enough of the shot to send it up and over the crossbar to prevent a potential game-changing goal in the game’s 7th minute.
On the other end of the field, Midland went with freshman keeper Matthew Ricci, who had made just one other start in his collegiate career. In his first start, Ricci allowed two goals in a 2-1 Warriors loss at St. Ambrose and entered Wednesday without a collegiate save.
Despite his limited time on the pitch, Ricci put together a solid performance and notched three saves in the game, two of which coming in virtual one-one-one situations after Bellevue attackers got past Midland defenders. The freshman made a pair of diving stops in the game, keeping the Bruins off the board and keeping his teammates in the game.
“I thought Matt was excellent tonight,” Martinez said. “He made some good saves when needed and I thought he controlled the box nicely.”
Ricci also spoiled other chances the Bruins had as he made a pair of leaping catches and added a punch-out on corner kick attempts from Bellevue. Ricci hasn’t been the primary keeper for Midland this season, but he made his case Wednesday for why he deserves a shot to be that guy.
“We have two very mature and confident freshmen goalkeepers in Matt and Mon (Scheepers) that want the best for each other,” Martinez said. “It makes for an exciting battle at that position. Hopefully these good performances can continue.”
The game was physical throughout, but never chippy as 30 total fouls and four yellow cards were dished out. Both teams competed hard, but never wavered from their individual game plans. Neither team managed to capitalize on a scoring chance, leaving the back-and-forth match in a draw.
“Although we didn’t win, this is a game that we can build off of and grow confidence from,” Martinez said. “Just last week, Bellevue beat the No. 1 team in the country. They’re a tough opponent regardless of their record and we stood up to the challenge tonight.”
Midland has only conference games left in the regular season. The Warriors start back up this Saturday, September 28, when they take on the Mount Marty Lancers (2-4 overall, 1-1 GPAC) at Heedum Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.