Western Courier

Leathernecks soccer fall in a late push by UIC

Armel+Kouassi+playing+defense+in+the+first+exhibition+match+of+the+season+for+the+Leathernecks.
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Leathernecks soccer fall in a late push by UIC

Armel Kouassi playing defense in the first exhibition match of the season for the Leathernecks.

Armel Kouassi playing defense in the first exhibition match of the season for the Leathernecks.

File Photo

Armel Kouassi playing defense in the first exhibition match of the season for the Leathernecks.

File Photo

File Photo

Armel Kouassi playing defense in the first exhibition match of the season for the Leathernecks.

Devon Greene, Assistant Sport editor

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The Western Illinois men’s soccer team fell due to a late game push to  start off the season in an exhibition game against the University of Illinois at Chicago, 2-1.

Neither team was able to find the goal in the first half and went to the locker rooms scoreless through 45 minutes. The stifling defense continued for both teams until Western’s senior forward, Armel Kouassi was able to break the ice and score the first goal of the game after sprinting past the defenders on the right wing and sending the ball off the goalpost past the goalie.

The game started to fall away from the Leathernecks after a foul in the 79th minute caused a penalty kick in which UIC player Abel Guzman tied up the score at one. The Flames took the lead just minutes later, after an assist by Christian Sanchez, sent the ball to Jesus Perez for the tiebreaking header to push the lead to 2-1.

Head Coach Eric Johnson saw some encouraging signs in the exhibition loss.

“We had the 1-0 lead and we had some guys who couldn’t play today and some freshmen who have never played in a Division I match, and I thought they did okay,” Johnson said. “UIC was pretty good on the ball and many of their shots were from a distance. I thought that even though they had the ball we were in the game the whole way, and could have actually won the game.”

With the young men joining the team, Johnson is preparing for the next game and the grind of the long soccer season to teach these young players how to adapt to the level of competetion and speed in Division 1. However, Coach Johnson does not seem to be worried about his young team adjusting
to the higher level of competition and speed.

“It’s a training game and we can look at the film which will really show the guys what they need to work on. We need to get better at closing on the ball.” Johnson said. “I think the next three days we can get an idea on what group we will use for Saturday, where we can improve on. It also comes with making the mental decisions that are improved on through training and make sure that we emphasize it so that they get it.”

Western has two more exhibition games against Depaul and Quincy before their first regular season game against Milwaukee on Aug. 25 on the road. That will be the start of a long road trip, Western will play six games before they make their home debut. Western will open up in Macomb against Drake University on Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. and start conference play Sept. 23, when they play
Fort Wayne. 

Twitter: @devonscasofrhy

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Leathernecks soccer fall in a late push by UIC