Men’s Soccer to battle the Bulldogs

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Men’s Soccer to battle the Bulldogs

Paul Kirdorf dribbles the ball wth a defender on his back.

Paul Kirdorf dribbles the ball wth a defender on his back.

Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Paul Kirdorf dribbles the ball wth a defender on his back.

Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Paul Kirdorf dribbles the ball wth a defender on his back.

Bradley Piros, Assistant Sports Editor

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MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois men’s soccer team is coming off of their second win of the season. Last time out, the Leathernecks beat the Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis Jaguars in a weather/darkness shortened match. The score was 1-0 and brought Western’s record to 2-4-2.

The game started off with an hour-long rain delay before play finally resumed. They would play for about 20 minutes, before being stopped for another half hour. After this rain delay, they played out as much of the match as they could before it got too dark.

After the second rain delay, Western found some momentum going forward and was able to maintain the ball pretty well in the front field. This led to the only goal of the match. In the 29th minute, sophomore defender Paul Kirdorf swung in a corner kick. After landing at Western’s feet, they knocked a couple of passes around before senior defender Orsy Gonzalez smashed home the game winning goal into the bottom right corner.

The conditions were not ideal, but Western stayed determined to seek out the shutout win. They will have to be equally determined tonight when they take on the Drake University Bulldogs. This has been a growing rivalry with the bordering state team from Des Moines, Iowa.

Last season was a heartbreaking loss for the Leathernecks. Junior at the time, forward Drew Whalen scored the opening goal in that contest, only for the Bulldogs to score two late goals to take all the air out of Western’s sail.

Drake is currently 4-3-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference, putting them in third right behind Missouri State and Central Arkansas. Last time out they tied the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers 1-1.

Three of those wins were against ranked teams. After opening up their season with a 1-0 loss at home to Oral Roberts University, the Bulldogs went on to play Butler University on the road. They managed to upset the No. 9 team in the nation 2-1.

They continued playing ranked teams, this time it was the No. 20 University of Illinois at Chicago, winning 3-1. Their last win came back on Sept. 15 against No. 23 University of Tulsa in dramatic overtime fashion 2-1.

Regardless, this Drake team won’t be an easy one to beat. Their record isn’t spectacular, but it is above .500, winning against some quality teams. That’s because the Bulldogs are full of individual talents that clique together to get work done.

While their defense is a little shaky, allowing nine goals in eight games, it’s the offense that has kept this team alive. Leading the team in points is redshirt-junior Cole Poppen. He currently has two goals for his team, as well as five assists, leading the MVC in that category. He’s started in all eight games and will look to continue at this pace.

Alongside him in the offense is sophomore Leroy Enzugusi. Second on his team for points, he has three goals and one assist to his name. Western will want to make sure they have both of these guys marked at all times on the field.

The Leathernecks haven’t performed exactly to their expectations so far this season, but a win here would be great heading into Summit League action.

“Tough road trip Wednesday at Drake but a good way to prepare for Saturday’s league opener with Oral Roberts,” Director of Soccer Eric Johnson said. “We will need to be sharp from the first minute against a team that has had success in recent games and has put some goals on the scoreboard.”

Look for a great game tonight in Iowa, under the lights, as the game begins tonight at 7 p.m. in Des Moines.

twitter: bradjp08

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