Men’s soccer takes on Eastern Illinois

Bradley Piros, Assistant Sports Editor

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MACOMB Ill. – The Western Illinois men’s soccer team take back to the field tomorrow afternoon as they continue their two-game road trip. They will take on their cross-state rivals in the Eastern Illinois University Panthers over in Charleston, Ill.

The Leathernecks are coming off of a 1-0 loss to the Missouri State Bears, bringing their record down to 2-6-3. They opened up their Summit League conference play against the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles and tied 1-1. EIU will be Western’s first of three straight Summit League matchups.

The Panthers are also 2-6-3 on the season, and also tied their first Summit League game. They tied the University of Denver Pioneers 0-0 after two overtimes. Last time out however they lost to the University of Northern Kentucky on the road 3-0.

“Critical road game for the Leathernecks,” Director of Soccer Dr. Eric Johnson said. “Both teams are sitting on one point, so this is a real swing game for the standings. Eastern Illinois drew Denver at home with a great defensive effort and shutout, so we will have to be sharp and on our game to get the win.”

EIU is yet to win a game at home, going 0-2-2, while Western is 0-3-2 while away. This will be the first of two straight home games for the Panthers, as they look to improve their record.

Last season, Western topped the Panthers 2-0 at home with goals from graduated forward Armel Kouassi and senior forward Drew Whalen. Junior defender Paul Kirdorf assisted on Whalen’s goal, and he now leads the team with two goals.

Scoring goals has been one of Western’s problems going forward this season, only scoring six goals in 11 games. Kirdorf has two on the season, still in defense, while his teammates Orsy Gonzalez, Daniel Kadima, Xavier Brown and Christian Junna each tallied one.

Offense has been a problem all season, and when they depend on Kirdorf so much to get up field, it leaves them a little more exposed in the back. Luckily for Western, senior captain Jamison Kozar has been steady in the back field, along with goalkeeper Tim Trilk.

Western has plenty of individual talent, and sometimes they don’t get the results they deserve. It only gets harder from here on out though, so if they are going to turn their season around, now is the time to start.

The game against the Panthers starts tomorrow at noon. The Leathernecks will return home to take on the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks next weekend.

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