by Matthew Hevel
Missouri State men’s soccer (7-0-0) continued its historic start to 2019 with a 2-0 win over Western Illinois (0-8-0) here on Thursday evening.
The Bears won their seventh straight match to open the season, becoming the first MSU team to accomplish this feat since the 1995 team started 7-0. The seven-game winning streak is MSU’s longest since 2017, matching the seven-game stretch that went from Sept. 13, 2017 to Oct. 7, 2017.
The Bears opened the scoring early on in the match as Nicolo Mulatero scored his first goal of 2019 in the 8th minute. After an MSU throw-in, Josh Dolling sent a pass in front of the Leathernecks’ goal and Mulatero was able to slide in and score to give the Bears an early 1-0 lead.
In the closing minutes of the first half, the Bears extended their lead to 2-0 off of a header from Ben Stroud. Following a free kick outside WIU’s box, Greg Stratton sent in a cross to find Stroud for the header.
The attack for MSU sent a barrage of shots towards the Leathernecks’ goal in the first half, launching a season-high seven shots on goal in the first 45 minutes of play.
In the 69th minute, Stroud recorded his first career brace as the senior defender launched another header to push the Bears’ lead to 3-0. He became the first MSU player to score two goals in a game since Dolling’s hat trick against Santa Clara on Sept. 10, 2018.
Dolling scored his league-leading fifth goal of the season in the 84th minute to seal the Bears’ 4-0 win.
The Bears controlled the attack for most of the match, posting a 21-6 shot advantage over the Leathernecks. MSU recorded 20+ shots in a match for the first time since last year’s double overtime match against Central Arkansas on Nov. 9, 2018.
Seven different MSU players tallied a shot on goal in the match with Dolling sending four of his five shots towards goal. Matthew Bentley chipped in two assists and Dolling and Stratton each picked up an assist, increasing the Bears’ total to 15 assists on the year.
“This was a great team win today, to go out and score four goals on the road is something they should be proud of. The most important thing is the three points”, said associate head coach Michael Seabolt. “Stroud has been working hard to put himself in a position to score goals, so it was great to see him bag a couple today.”