‘Necks stymie defending Mid-Con champs

Ed Cabello

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All season long, the soccer Leathernecks have put their efforts and focus toward reaching excellence and the Mid-Continent Conference championship. The ‘Necks had the opportunity to reach one of those goals earlier than expected when they faced last year’s Mid-Con champions in Howard University’s Bisons Wednesday.

The ‘Necks looked to bounce back from a disappointing double-overtime loss to Eastern Illinois University with a 1-0 taming of the Bisons in the nation’s capital.

Howard, which reached and won the Mid-Con Championship last year, were back in conference play, hoping to intimidate the Leathernecks.

‘Neck sophomore Chris Vokt had plans of his own with his first goal of the season off an impressive assist from Erick Hernandez with two minutes left in the first half.

The goal gave the ‘Necks a 1-0 lead and the defense played the role of enforcer, holding the lead for a ‘Neck win.

The Bisons outshot the Leathernecks 14 to 4, but failed to capitalize on any opportunities, due in part to a stellar game from junior goalie Jordan Martone.

Martone tallied 3 saves and got his first shutout of the season, pushing the ‘Necks to 2-0 in conference play.

The ‘Necks still had fire left in them from an impressive win over the Bisons on Wednesday going into a non-conference game at Drury College with a Sunday matinee game time.

The physical size and speed of the ‘Necks was distinct on the field as the ‘Necks got the better of Drury College, handing them their seventh consecutive loss in a row with a 2-0 shutout.

The game was fueled by aggressive play, earning a combined 31 fouls and receiving a total of eight yellow cards.

One of the cards belonged to the Panthers coach, capped off by the ejection of a Panther player. Junior midfielder Matt Hawkins scored both goals for the victorious ‘Necks.

Hawkins scored in the second half on a low kick that eluded Panther goalie Bryan Kozeny to break a scoreless tie. Hawkins then picked up his second goal of the game on a header that rifled past a vacant goal just two minutes later.

‘Neck goalie Jordan Martone, who recorded his first shutout against Howard, earned his second shutout in as many games

Martone couldn’t put his maneuvers to use due to sloppy play by the Panthers and earned an effortless two saves.

The ‘Necks now a carry 4-9 overall record, including a 3-2 mark in their last five games.

They are currently holding an early 2-0 conference lead.

The ‘Necks host Oral Roberts University on Friday and hope to put the bite on the Golden Eagles at 3 p.m. at John MacKenzie Alumni Field.