PEORIA — The Bradley soccer team was bounced out of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on penalty kicks Friday night at Shea Stadium.
After the Braves and No. 2 seed Central Arkansas played to a 1-1 draw after two overtime periods, the Bears advanced to the title match with an 8-7 edge on PKs.
A goal by Christian Ilia had given UCA (8-10-1) the lead, but Bradley sophomore Roman Schindler's ensuing kick bounced off the crossbar to end the semifinal contest.
The Bears will face top-seeded Missouri State for the Valley tournament title at 1 p.m. Sunday.
"When you get to penalty kicks, like they say, it's 50-50," Bradley coach Jim DeRose said. "All it takes is one make or one miss, and there's nothing you can do.
"For the penalty kicks, for the most part, we went with the guys who scored goals for us this year. Roman was one of our leading goal scorers, and he missed the penalty. It's not his fault, it wasn't his first, and it won't be his last. He had a great year for us, and there's nothing to point at."
In regulation, the Braves (11-7-3) took the early lead on a set play. Freshman Gerit Wintermeyer headed in a long throw-in from Jacob Taylor at 21:15 to give Bradley a 1-0 advantage. But the lead lasted 36 seconds.
UCA sophomore Niklas Brodacki scored his 16th goal of the season on a rebound off a shot from teammate Blake Stricker, to tie the match at 21:51.
The teams went scoreless the final 88 minutes of the game.
UCA coach Ross Duncan, whose team hadn't played in nine days, said the Bears remembered a 3-0 loss to Bradley at Shea two weeks ago.
"After that game, we talked about how you respond to adversity," he said. "I'm not going to say that's exactly what they were thinking, but I couldn't have asked for a better response to what they put on us."
BU goalkeeper Brandon Barnes made three saves during the game, and almost stopped a pair of PKs. The sixth and seventh shots by the Bears barely trickled over the goal line to keep UCA alive.
"We were fortunate in the shootout, but we've been on the other side of that," Duncan said. "We feel good about the performance we put in, and felt like we earned a shot at the final."
UCA finished with a 16-13 lead in shots, but the Braves had an 8-4 edge in shots on goal.
"What more could you ask from a group of guys were picked dead last, didn't have a first-team all-conference player, and won 11 games this year — as many as anybody in the conference," DeRose said. "I could not be more thankful and proud to have coached them, because they worked so hard to get here.
"And we were a penalty kick away from advancing to the championship. I thought our guys battled hard and competed all week for this, and we'll be back next year."
The first semifinal also went to penalty kicks. Evansville and Missouri State played to a scoreless tie after two overtimes. The Bears advance on penalty kicks, 7-6.
Johnny Campos can be reached at 686-3214 or a firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.