Necks knockout Jaguars at home

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MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois University men’s soccer team defeated the visiting Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Jaguars 1-0 back on Tuesday, improving their record to 2-4-2. It was the Leathernecks’ third shutout of the season, but only their second win in eight games.

“Good win for us today,” Director of Soccer Eric Johnson said. “Another shutout due to our effort, communication and concentration of our back line and midfield. IUPUI made it difficult and the weather delays were frustrating. Good goal from Gonzalez and there were some quality individual performances.”

The match was set to begin at 4 p.m. against their former Summit League rival, but after only 34 seconds, the game was put into rain delay. Western had a very good opportunity in that little time, as a low cross came in from sophomore defender Paul Kirdorf and fell to the feet of senior midfielder Daniel Kadima.

Kadima took the shot well, however only found side netting with his left foot, before the game was temporarily paused. The game was put on hold for about an hour but eventually resumed.

When the game came back on Western began to create more of an offense, especially from junior midfielder Christian Junna. A lot of Western’s offense found its way through him during the match, as he contributed on some key plays. The Leathernecks stayed on the front foot, until in the 19th minute, when the game was stopped again for rain.

This stoppage was only about 30 minutes, as the teams took to the field again, nearing almost 6 p.m. The rain continued to fall, just not as heavy as before, so the teams resumed play yet again.

Western continued to have all of the offense, including a couple of corner kicks from Kirdorf, as well as the return of senior forward, Drew Whalen. The team’s leading goal scorer finally returned to the pitch after not starting the previous six games, rejuvenating the Leathernecks offense all together.

Offense has typically been one of Western’s biggest issues, but it sure wasn’t against IUPUI. Western outshot the Jaguars 15-4 and 7-3 on goal.

The conditions weren’t ideal with all the rainfall, slick grass and random wind gusts, but both teams were able to make the best of it.

Western went on to score off of a corner kick from Kirdorf in the 30th minute. Kirdorf swung the ball in, but with no real success. Western retained the ball however and made two or three key passes outside the 18-yard box to put pressure on the defense.

The ball eventually found its way to the feet of senior defender Orsy Gonzalez who took a touch and smashed the ball into the bottom right corner of the net for his first goal of the season, and a 1-0 lead for the Leathernecks.

Shots continued to come from Whalen, Junna and Kadima, but the Jaguars contained Western to just a one goal lead heading into half time.

It was a short halftime, not even two minutes in length, because it was then nearing 7 p.m. and daylight was quickly disappearing. John Mackenzie field not having lights, was obviously a problem.

The second half saw offense from both sides, but no real opportunities as it was getting harder and harder to see. Both teams did well with what they had but would initially come up a short to find another goal.

Western stood tall though, all the way up until the 83rd minute, where the game would be called off due to darkness. It was a dreary day for both teams, waiting out two rain delays, and playing in miserable conditions.

Both teams fought hard, but the Leathernecks fought just a little harder to put one in the back of the net. They didn’t give up and saw out a shutout performance.

They’ll look to continue that momentum into their next match, where they’ll take on the Drake University Bulldogs on the road.

After that match, the Leathernecks will return home and open up their Summit League slate against the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles.

Until then, Western has one final game to fine tune any problems and prepare for league play. The game against the Bulldogs is on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Des Moines, Iowa.

twitter: bradjp08

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