Through four wins the Missouri State men’s soccer team has only allowed one goal.
Defense has been at the center of the Missouri State men’s soccer team’s season so far.
A 1-0 victory against Central Arkansas on Tuesday, Sept. 10, showed the strength of the Bears’ back four — Central Arkansas only attempted three shots in the entire game.
The match was scoreless going into the final minute when junior forward Josh Dolling scored the game winning goal with 41 seconds left.
“We want to keep shutting teams out,” Missouri State associate head coach Michael Seabolt said after the victory against Central Arkansas. “We’re going to do that by being on the front foot and defending high. The goals will come if we do that.”
Defense again came up big for the Bears in a 2-1 overtime victory over Tulsa on Saturday.
An early goal by Tulsa was the first allowed by the Bears all season, but it was the only one Tulsa would get.
Redshirt senior forward Ian Jones scored to tie the game in the 81st minute, and Dolling scored his fourth goal of the season in overtime to win it.
“They game was getting a bit tough there — we weren’t playing like we normally do,” Dolling said after beating Tulsa. “But we got the one chance we needed, and I put it in.”
The Bears have won an award because of their defense as well.
Sophomore midfielder Jack Denton was named the Missouri Valley Conference’s defensive player of the week on Sept. 10 after a two-assist performance against UMKC on Sept. 7.
Denton was quick to credit his teammates, however.
“The back four help me out a lot,” Denton said. “They tell me where to be and when to be there. I feel like I’m almost their puppet — I do what they say, and it seems to pay off.”
The back four defenders for Missouri State are not a set group of four, but a larger committee.
Injuries and other factors have lead to substitutes playing substantial roles off the bench.
In the Bears victory over Tulsa, redshirt freshman defender Hugo Jönsson, who had only played in one other game, came in for injured junior defender Greg Stratton. Jönsson ended up having assists on both Bear goals.
The Bears have the opportunity to test their defense against Missouri Valley Conference foe Valparaiso on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at noon.