Soccer shutout by Panthers

Paul Kirdorf fully focused while striking the ball in a match.


Paul Kirdorf fully focused while striking the ball in a match.

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — Western Illinois University did not impress in the first home matchup of the regular season. Playing in front of the home crowd the Leathernecks lost 4-0 against Milwaukee last Sunday.

The weather was hot and seemed to drain the energy out of Leathernecks before the ball even started rolling. In the first half the Leathernecks did not record a shot attempt. They did not generate chances and could not seem to get space near Milwaukee’s back line.

Through the first half the Leathernecks’ defense seemed to be able to put up a fight with senior defensive back Jamison Kozar leading the way. His tough and more importantly smart play kept the Panthers from getting many chances on goal.

It looked as if both teams would settle for a tie moving into halftime, but an opportunity presented itself for the Panthers. In the 44-minute the referees called a controversial foul around 27 yards out. Sophomore midfielder Vuk Latinovich took the free kick and put it to the right of the keeper to take a 1-0 lead before half.

Coming out of half the Leathernecks lacked the necessary edge that is needed when playing down, and the Panthers pounced on that opportunity. In the 65th minute, redshirt sophomore, forward Alex Sykes stole the ball after miscommunication between sophomore defensive back Michael Howell and junior goalkeeper Tim Trilk and lobbed a ball over Trilk and into the goal for the second time of the afternoon.

With the Leathernecks down two, they needed to bounce back. Freshman forward Xavier Brown was one of the few Leathernecks that never stopped working. He had hard tackles and an energy that inspired the Leathernecks to keep fighting.

Almost immediately after the second goal his energy got him into trouble, as he came at a tackle too hard and slid into a Milwaukee player in a dangerous fashion. This earned Brown an early trip to the showers and the team played with only 10 men for the rest of the game.

Down 10 men and two goals, Milwaukee could smell blood in the water and never stopped attacking. Milwaukee tallied two more goals near the end of the game one coming from redshirt junior Josh Kaye and the other from senior midfielder Sean Holmes in the 84th minute. With a 0-4 loss the season begins on a low note.

Some high notes from the game were the defensive playing in the first half. Milwaukee could not get around Western’s back line and find space. Without some small mental mistakes and more discipline not to foul this backline looks to improve the number of shutouts last season with just three.

A few players that looked sharp were sophomore Paul Kirdoff and freshman Cesar Cosio. Kirdoff played right back for the majority of the game and showed that he could get up and down the field quickly and create a ton of space for the Leathernecks. They seemed to enjoy Paul’s work ethic and hustle as they tried to generate most of the offense through him.

Cosio seemed to have fantastic ball control for his age. On multiple occasions he controlled the ball and directed it through multiple defensive players and found space to pass up the field. He could make defenders miss, but more importantly does not turn the ball over. His play was a highlight in the loss and showed promise for the leathernecks moving into the rest of the season. Their next challenge will be this Friday against Green Bay at home.