STORRS, Conn. – On Jan. 16, 1961, the #4 Bradley men’s basketball team knocked off #1 Cincinnati, 91-90, at Robertson Memorial Fieldhouse, a result against that eventually would be deemed Bradley Basketball’s “Game of the Century. For 53 years, that win against Oscar Robertson’s Bearcats stood as the only victory a Bradley University team had recorded against the nation’s top-ranked team.
On Saturday night, Bradley Soccer earned the school’s second all-time win against the nation’s No. 1 team: Zach Kovacevic’s third-minute penalty kick goal stood up as the only score of the night and the Braves (3-2-0) held on for a 1-0 victory at #1 Connecticut (2-1-1) at Morrone Stadium. Bradley improves to 1-4-0 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams.
The Huskies, who have been ranked No. 1 in the Soccer America Top 25 poll each of the last two weeks, saw their 39-game regular-season home unbeaten streak come to an end in front of 3,977 fans, the largest crowd to ever witness a Bradley Soccer victory. The Huskies were 34-0-5 in their last 39 regular-season home games, dating back to a 3-0 loss to Boston University Sept. 5, 2009.
Bradley was awarded the early penalty kick when senior forward Chris Olivera was clipped by UConn keeper Andre Blake while trying to run onto a ball flicked into the penalty area by defender Grant Bell. Kovacevic, a fourth-year junior defender who had taken but two shots in his entire Bradley career entering the match, calmly stepped to the spot and buried the penalty kick for his first career goal.
Though UConn outshot Bradley, 7-3, in the first half, the Huskies did not manage to put a shot on goal until the 68th minute. The hosts turned up the heat at that point, finishing with a 20-6 advantage in shots and 11-3 margin in corner kicks, but Bradley senior goalkeeper Brian Billings made five saves to record his third shutout of the season and 16th clean sheet of his career. In the process, Billings climbed to fourth in Bradley history with his 270 career saves.
Bradley will continue its lengthy, 5-game road swing next weekend by visiting Denver Friday night and Air Force Sept. 22, before returning home to host #11 Cal State Northridge Sept. 28 at Shea Stadium. Including last weekend’s trip to the UNLV Nike Invitational, Bradley’s 5-game road swing will take the Braves nearly 7,500 miles by the time they return home from next Sunday’s game at Air Force.