Men’s soccer wins both exhibition match-ups

Christopher Gibson, Courier Staff

MAOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois Men’s Soccer team won its last exhibition game against Quincy on Saturday by a narrow margin of 2-1 in overtime.

The match was scoreless until the 52nd minute when Quincy took the lead. The Leathernecks were unable to respond until later in the second half when junior Paul Kirdorf one-timed it to tie the game up. Going into the 90th minute, both teams were tied at 1-1, bringing about two 10 minute overtime periods. It wasn’t long, however, into the first overtime period that senior Gimale Essacu scored the game winning goal for the Leathernecks- just five minutes.

This was the second time that the teams’ exhibition game went into overtime. The first game against Illinois- Springfield was scoreless after 90 minutes of play, prompting the two overtime periods. Once again, Essacu was a key contributor in the game, assisting junior Daisuke Otsuka, who scored the winning goal.

This win also helped to start the team on a winning streak, winning both of their exhibition games before the regular season begins. Hopefully, the team can keep this together heading into Friday, where they will look to defeat Milwaukee on the road. Milwaukee went 2-1 in their three exhibition games, only losing to Loyola Chicago on the road. This will be a tough matchup out of the gate for the Leathernecks, with the Panthers being undefeated so far through exhibition at home. The Leathernecks won’t play at home until Sept. 6 against Oakland.

Moving forward, the team will be looking for good team chemistry to keep up. In an interview with Athletic Communications, director of soccer Dr. Eric Johnson said, “Good comeback win for us. Quincy was a handful and really put us under pressure. Our second goal was a great piece of teamwork and combination play. We need to have a good week of training in order to be ready to play on the road next weekend.” As with any team sport, having good teamwork is key to success, and soccer is no different. After going 3-1-2 last season, the team will be looking to beat that mark.

The team will also be looking to quiet some of the critics. In a preseason poll of The Summit League, the Leathernecks are expected to come in fifth in league only above Eastern Illinois. While they look to do a lot better than that, they will have their hands full with Denver. Denver is ranked 18th in the nation before the season officially begins, making them the top team in The Summit League. In order to prove some of the naysayers wrong, the Leathernecks will be looking to Kirdorf to lead the way. Last season, he managed to earn a team high seven points off of two goals and three assists. With a few more games on the schedule this season, Kirdorf will be looking to do better