Men's Soccer Prepares for Pivotal Weekend of MVC Action

With the Vanderbilt men's soccer team standing at 0-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference, this weekend's games at Drake (4-4-1, 0-0-1 MVC) and Creighton (5-2-2, 0-0-1) are must wins if the Commodores want qualify for the conference tournament in November. Vanderbilt will take on Drake at 7 p.m. (CST) Friday in Des Moines, Iowa, then return to action at 2:30 p.m. (CST) Sunday to take on Creighton in Omaha, Neb.

The Commodores have had a mixture of success against these two teams. The Black and Gold have won three-consecutive meetings against the Bulldogs, while leading the all-time series, 3-1-1. Vanderbilt defeated Drake last season in Nashville, 2-1. The Commodores are looking to avoid their first 0-3 start in conference action since joining the league back in back in 1997. The Bulldogs are undefeated at Hidden Valley Complex, as they have compiled a 2-0-1 record at home this season.

On the other, the Commodores have not had much success at all against the Bluejays, as Creighton has never lost a game to Vanderbilt (4-0-1). In Nashville last season, the Bluejays defeated the Commodores handily, 3-0. Creighton is undefeated at Tranquility Park this season, as it has amassed a 3-0-1 record.

Vanderbilt is coming off a difficult opening weekend of conference action, as it fell to No. 10-ranked Bradley and Eastern Illinois at the Vanderbilt Soccer Complex. In both games, the Commodores jumped ahead 1-0 before seeing their lead diminish quickly. Vanderbilt had its chances in both games, but was not able to convert on its opportunities.

Senior forward Nik DeMello continued his solid offensive performance, as he scored two goals over the weekend, which gave him a team leading five goals on the season. The senior, out of Oakdale, Calif., now ranks ninth all-time on the Vanderbilt career goal list with 19. He needs only one goal to tie Pat Galvin (1998-91) for eighth on the all-time list.

Freshman midfielder Kyle Lapkewych (Sterling Heights, Mich.) continued his solid play for head coach Tim McClements. The freshman has played in all 11 games this season, six of which he has started. Last weekend, Lapkewych recorded assists on two of Vanderbilt's three goals.

The Commodores have struggled on the defensive end this season, as opponents are averaging 2.91 goals per game. Vanderbilt's defense has surrendered 32 goals in 11 games this season, while only scoring 11 goals for itself.

Scouting the Bulldogs

The Bulldogs enter Friday evening's contest having played only one MVC contest, which came against Vanderbilt's other weekend opponent - Creighton. The Bulldogs and Bluejays battled through two 45-minute periods and two 10-minute overtime sessions before the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Creighton's only goal of the game, which came in the 10th minute, came on the misfortune of the Drake defense. The Bulldogs scored an own goal on themselves, which gave the Bluejays the early advantage. Drake tied the game up in the 70th minute when forward Matt Nickell volleyed a shot into the net following a cross from midfielder Corey Farabi.

Nickell has been the go-to person for head coach Sean Holmes, as he leads the team in every major statistical category. He has scored four goals and dished out three assists for 11 points, while also taking 25 shots. His four goals and 11 points lead the team, while his three assists and 25 shots are tied for the team lead.

The Bulldogs have run into similar problems that the Commodores have been having on offense. Drake has only scored 11 goals this season in its nine games (0.86 goals per game average). Midfielder Andrew Kewley is the only other player on the team who has scored at least two goals.

On the other side of the ball, Drake's defense has been highly effective. The Bulldogs have only surrendered 13 goals this season, which comes out to being a 1.40 goals against average per game.

Goalkeeper Zach Brennan has been a mainstay in net this season for the Bulldogs. The junior has played every minute this season, as he has allowed 13 goals while recording 32 saves. Brennan has also tallied two shutouts this season, which came against Drake (W, 3-0) and San Diego State (W, 1-0)

Scouting the Bluejays

Led by college soccer coaching legend Bob Warming, the Bluejays are off to another solid start this season. Creighton has endured a difficult non-conference schedule to put itself in running for another Missouri Valley Conference championship.

Preseason All-American candidate Mike Tranchilla leads a solid Creighton offense. The senior has been effective this season despite only taking 13 shots. Tranchilla leads the team with four goals, two of which were game-winning goals, and two assists for 10 points.

Warming has received a solid balance from his offense this season. Besides Tranchilla's four goals, four other members of the team have scored two goals apiece. Along with his two goals, forward Julian Nash has recorded five assists and 21 shots, both of which lead the team.

Just like Drake goalkeeper Zach Brennan, Creighton goalkeeper Mike Gabb has played every minute this season for the Bluejays. The senior has made life extremely difficult for opposing offenses to get by, as he has allowed only 11 goals in nine games this season (1.14 goals against average), while also recording 33 saves.

Brennan's statistics are quite amazing, as Creighton as played four nationally-ranked teams along with contests against west coast powers Washington and Portland. Brennan has also recorded three shutouts this season, which gives him 11.5 for his career.




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