PEORIA, Ill. – Reserve freshman forward Desmond Campbell made his first career goal a big one, netting the game-winner in the 78th minute, leading #18 Bradley (5-1-2) to a 2-1 win against Loyola-Chicago (1-5-1) in the final game of the Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium.
In Sunday’s first game, Evansville freshman forward Terry Dylan scored with 28.5 seconds remaining in the second overtime as the Purple Aces (4-2-0) stunned Memphis (5-1-1) with a 2-1 decision to earn the tournament title.
Bradley dominated the tourney’s final game from the opening kickoff and finished the game with a 28-7 advantage in shots. The Braves did not allow Loyola’s first shot until the game’s 35th minute, but unable to take advantage of its lopsided advantage, Bradley allowed the tying goal in Loyola’s second shot of the game in the 60th minute.
Bradley All-America candidate Bryan Gaul gave the Braves a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute on a brilliant, left-footed blast from the top of the penalty area. The play started with a Keegan Balle throw in from deep on the left flank. Junior midfielder Keith Mach possessed the throw up the sideline and played it into the middle for defender Mike Hnat, who served the ball forward to Gaul. The 6-foot-5 target forward chested the ball down with his back to the goal, let it take a bounce, then spun on his right foot for the laser side volley to net his sixth goal of the season at 52:12.
Though the Ramblers had yet to mount any serious challenges through the first 59 minutes, Loyola pulled even at 59:57 when Emilio Benbassat served a 40-yard free kick into the box, where Kyle Spoo rose above the crowd and flicked the service backward over charging Bradley keeper Brian Billings.
The Ramblers used the tying goal to start a momentum swing and began pressuring the Braves defense more consistently. That pressure ended up costing the visitors, though, in the 78th minute when Bradley countered off of a Loyola free kick.
Billings easily saved an Eric Nock free kick from the left flank and quickly sprung forward Ross Williams with a throw up the far sideline. Williams continued his sprint down the sideline, before centering to Campbell near the top of the box. The Jamaican freshman collected the through ball in stride and beat Loyola keeper Christian Krueger with a shot into the right corner at 77:33.
The Braves were dangerous throughout the game and just missed on several chances. Luke Wasylik hit the crossbar with a first-half shot and Christian Meza appeared to score in the 62nd minute, before Loyola back Reed Patterson chased down the chip shot and cleared it off the line.
Bradley will return to action Friday when they visit another in-state rival, Western Illinois in a 4:30 p.m. game in Macomb. The game against the Leathernecks will start a 3-week-long road swing that will continue Oct. 1 (Massachusetts) and Oct. 3 (New Hampshire) in New England and conclude Oct. 8 with the Missouri Valley Conference opener at Drake.