Soccer seeks first win of season


File Photo

Drew Whalen chases an opponent on defense.

Bradley Piros, Assistant Sports Editor

MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois men’s soccer team gets back to business this weekend as they play two games in three days. They’ll kick things off this afternoon against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix and wrap things up against Bowling Green State University.

The Leathernecks currently sit at 0-1-1 after tying Oakland University and losing 4-0 to Milwaukee last Sunday in their home opener. It was a tough loss for both head coach Eric Johnson and his team of course. That game included a free kick goal, a penalty kick, a mistake in the defense, and a scary red card. It was an all-around poor performance by Western, and they’ll look to do better this weekend.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for the Leathernecks, but they are looking to bounce back today and Sunday as they continue their four-game home stand. UWGB come into this game 1-0-1, beating Northern Illinois University 3-2, and haven’t played since Monday. BGSU however are 0-2 on the season and play tonight as well.

Coach Johnson has sent out the exact same lineup for this season’s opening two games but will most likely be tweaking it to try and get his side’s first win. Freshman forward, Xavier Brown was shown a straight red card last game against Milwaukee after a very hard tackle and should be suspended one match.

It’s no secret that this team is lacking offense. The back line is fine, with captains Jamison Kozar and Paul Kirdorf holding down the fort. With Alejandro and Fernando Pacheco gone, and with senior Drew Whalen currently not playing, this team is struggling to generate offense.

Along with the Pacheco brothers, Western lost Armel Kouasi and Ben Fiddes last year, who could also score goals. Let’s put it this way; Western only scored 20 goals last year, Fernando scored seven, while his brother recorded one. Kouasi and Fiddes each tallied one as well, and Fiddes was a defender. Drew Whalen led the team with eight goals last season.

That’s Western’s current issue. Four of those players graduated, and the remaining player, Whalen hasn’t seen the field yet this season. No one is scoring goals. To make things worse, the Leathernecks’ only goal this season came from Brown, who is most likely suspended at least one-game.

Western scored five goals in three games this preseason. Three of them came from Kozar, one from Kirdorf and the other from Brown. Four of those goals came from defenders, and the other a freshman. It’s great to score goals, but this team can’t rely on their defense to create offense. It leaves the team exposed and prone to counter attacks.

Brown on the other hand, has one of the best work ethics on the team. Nothing against Kirdorf and Kozar, because they are absolute work horses as well, but this young talent could be Western’s next break out star. The only reason he was shown a red against Milwaukee was because he goes into every single tackle hard and never gives up on a play. Coach Johnson has a very promising forward on his hands if he can use him correctly and get him scoring more goals.

This team knows its flaws, and they know what they need to improve on. It’s just whether or not they can get their act together and start winning. Both their games are at home this weekend, today at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

twitter: bradjp08