by Matthew Hevel
A set-piece goal off the foot of Josh Dolling boosts No. 1-seed Missouri State (17-0, 10-0 MVC) to a 1-0 win over Drake (8-9-1, 4-5-1 MVC) in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinals here Friday afternoon.
With their 17th-straight win, the Bears advance to their third championship game—and 10th overall—in the last four years.
MSU had a couple of great scoring chances midway through the first half, beginning with an Ian Jones shot that was deflected out by Drake’s goalkeeper, Luke Anderson. After entering the match just two minutes later, Nicolo Mulatero almost put the Bears on the scoreboard in the 34th minute as his shot from 14 yards out ricocheted off the crossbar.
MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, Michael Creek, was put to the test early on in the second half of play, collecting two of his three saves within the first 10 minutes.
After being held scoreless in the first half for just the fifth time this season, MSU broke through in the 66th minute following a Bears’ set piece. Josh Dolling was on the receiving end of Jack Denton’s free kick as the junior forward recorded his seventh goal of the season.
Dolling’s goal resulted in his fifth game-winner in 2019 as the Bears’ defense held on to seal the 1-0 victory. The junior forward has scored in back-to-back matches—both against Drake—giving him his second multi-game scoring streak since opening the season with four straight game-winning goals.
Denton’s assist on the lone goal of the match increased his season total to nine, tying him for the eighth most in the nation.
Jones led MSU with three shots, two of them coming on frame, followed by Matthew Bentley, who saw his eight-game scoring streak come to an end.
Creek earned his sixth shutout this season, moving him into sixth on the all-time career list for Missouri State.
The MVC Championship will be the first appearance for Missouri State since 2017 where the Bears will await the winner of the Loyola/Bradley game. The championship match is set for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff on Sunday, Nov. 17 at the Loyola Soccer Park in Chicago with a live stream being aired on ESPN+.