Soccer draws in Summit League match

Christian Junna looking for a pass at John Mackenzie Alumni Field.

GOLEATHERNECKS.COM

Christian Junna looking for a pass at John Mackenzie Alumni Field.

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois University men’s soccer team settled for a tie with Oral Roberts University this past Saturday to open up the Summit League play. The Leathernecks now post a record of 2-5-1 and are 0-0-1 in conference play. ORU maintains a record of 5-3-2 and is also 0-0-1 in League play.

The game started a little slow, pace was dictated by the defense as neither team generated opportunities or had ease moving the ball up. A constant possession battle in midfield seemed to be going Western’s way at first.

Junior midfielder Gimale Essacu challenged Oral Roberts goalkeeper Nicolas Mertzokat, but couldn’t find the net. The Western offense continued to fight through and beat the Golden Eagles back line earning a total of four corners in the first half and four shots on goal.

Senior midfielder Paul Kirdorff and freshman forward Cesar Cosio had shots that went above the cross bar as Western looked to take control of the game. Then, in the 30th minute, junior Tanguy Guerineau had a free kick opportunity for Oral Roberts.

The kick deflected off of a defender and missed Tim Trilk’s hands, as it fell in the bottom right corner, Oral Roberts led the game 1-0.

The momentum switched and Western was eager to find an equalizer. They earned their final corner of the half with 40 minutes on the clock. After it seemed the corner kick had failed, the ball ended up at the feet of senior defender Jamison Kozar, who found an unmarked man in the box.

Junior midfielder Christian Junna turned with the ball and rifled it into the right corner. This was Junna’s first goal of the season, and it couldn’t come at a better time than against their first Summit League opponent.

The score of the game was 1-1 at half and it seemed as if Western had an upper leg. They had the most chances and were one goal away from proving they were the better team.

The second half was consistent with only two things. The first, would be that Western continued to control the possession and had the most opportunities. Second, there were constant fouls on both teams. A combined 15 total fouls with nine of those being on Western Illinois, the flow of the game seemed to be based around the whistles of the referees.

In terms of offense, Western Illinois had seven shots to ORU’s three shots. Although the game was constantly being stopped, the amount of offense is somewhat impressive. Breaking the Golden Eagles back line seemed to be a difficult challenge, but the Leathernecks midfield finessed themselves around the pitch to find opportunities.

One of Western’s best opportunities came in the 75th minute, as a cross came towards senior forward Drew Whalen, who headed the ball towards goal but it barely missed wide left. After 90 minutes the game was still tied and would see overtime to try and find a winner.

Again, Western dominated both overtimes. Recording six shots total while the Golden Eagles couldn’t even find one opportunity in the two overtime periods. Kozar looked to get the golden goal on a header attempt from a corner kick, but a great save from Mertzokat kept it out.

Another fantastic opportunity from forward Tacuma Sadlow had the audience holding their breath, but a sigh of frustration broke out once again because a tie had remained. No goal was found, and the Leathernecks start their Summit League run off on a tie.

Next up, the Leathernecks will face non-conference opponent Missouri State University this Tuesday in Springfield, Mo.