Western Courier

Soccer prepares for season opener

Drew Whalen in position to receive the ball.

Drew Whalen in position to receive the ball.

File Photo

File Photo

Drew Whalen in position to receive the ball.

Haley Richards and Haley Richards

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ROCHESTER, Mich. — The Western Illinois Men’s soccer team took a draw of 1-1 in their season opener against Oakland University this past Friday. The Leathernecks were leading the whole game until the Grizzlies scored in the 90th minute.

Director of Soccer Eric Johnson was content with the draw but was ultimately hoping for the win.

“Good first road game for our squad,” Johnson said. “I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get all three points but we didn’t fold after giving up the lead in the last minute which shows we have some grit. It was exciting to see Xavier get his first collegiate goal as well.”

Sophomore midfielder Paul Kirdorf got the Purple and Gold going with an early shot on goal. In the 33rd minute, senior midfielder Daniel Kadima had another good strike, which was saved by the Oakland keeper. Right before halftime, Oakland’s junior forward Nebojsa Popovic had a shot that hit the top of the crossbar, but fortunately did not make it in the back of the net.

In the 73rd minute, the Leathernecks captured the game when freshman forward Xavier Brown beat the keeper and found the back of the net. This was not only Brown’s first collegiate goal but also the first of the season for Western.

With less than a minute left in regulation play freshman defender Napoleon Outlaw III found the equalizer off of a rebound leaving the match at a score of 1-1.

Western had a total of eight shots on goal while Oakland had 21. Junior goalkeeper Tim Trilk had six saves on the day, two of which were crucial to the keep the draw. The game was also a physical match; the Grizzlies having 18 fouls against them while the Leathernecks had nine. Kadima had four shots on goal while senior defender Orsy Gonzales and Kirdorf each had one shot on the day.

Coming up for the Leathernecks in the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Bowling Green State University, which will both be at home. Green bay is set for Friday, Aug. 31 at 3 p.m. while Bowling Green is set for Sunday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m.

Last time the Purple and Gold faced these two teams was early in the 2017 season. Western saw a 4-3 loss to Green Bay and a 2-0 loss to Bowling Green.

Since then, Western has lost players such as Fernando Pacheco who had seven goals and 15 points in his final season. However, the roster still features 13 upperclassmen, which includes six seniors. In the senior class the roaster is forward Drew Whalen, forward Feli Keti, Orsy Gonzales, defender Angelo Amato, defender Jamison Kozar, midfielder Jacob Bjornsen, and Daniel Kadima.

Whalen was named a 2018 Summit League Player to Watch and was also named All-Summit League First team honoree after last season where he had eight goals, ranking him at third in the conference.

Twitter: hayfourrr

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Soccer prepares for season opener