Men’s soccer picks up first win against Denver Pioneers


Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Cesar Cosio sprints back into the play.

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — Western Illinois Men’s soccer went into the weekend winless and a tough task at hand with their opponent. Welcoming in the Denver University Pioneers, (2-6-1) who were the pre-season favorites to repeat as champions in The Summit League, the team played its best soccer of the year, securing their first win of the season 4-3.

The win marks a turning point for the team now sitting at 1-11, but 1-1 in conference. With only three conference games left, Western still holds a chance to make a postseason appearance. Sitting third in conference helps, but they need to stay strong in the next few weeks to give themselves the best chance possible.

The game was full of back and forth action and made the Leathernecks sweat out a victory. It started early when Denver’s own Preston Judd took the ball towards the middle and fired a right-footed shot past the outreached gloves of Tim Trilk. The Pioneers looked poised and calm early after the goal coming in the fifth minute.

Western stayed tough and kept fighting, especially senior Paul Kirdorf who seemed to be on both sides of the field at all times. He started a run and took open space to force a ball into the box. After deflecting off a few players, transfer Daisuke Otsuka was falling to the ground, but he put his foot to the ball to find the net, and an equalizer.

The Purple and Gold were not done on the attacking side in the first half. Aggressive play led to a multitude of fouls; a total of 36 were called in this game, including five yellow cards. On one of those free kicks for Western, Kirdorf put a low cross into the box where Cesar Cosio got a touch on the ball to redirect it past the keeper for Western’s second lead of the entire year.

Denver stayed cool, calm and collected and never looked panicked. Junior midfielder Josh Drack, who leads the Pioneers in points this year, slowly took the ball up the middle, found some space and put everything he had into a right-footed shot just out of the box that not even a cement wall could have stopped.

The teams went into halftime all knotted up at 2-2, and both teams came out swinging. After a pair of substitutions from both teams in the 60th and 64th minutes, it was the bench that had an impact. For Western, it was Ryan Debois who took a beautiful pass into the box from Luke Duball to put the Leathernecks up by one. The Pioneers looked to Kengo Ohira to beat Trilk and even up the game once more at 3-3.

The winning goal came from freshman Kyle Owen. His first goal of the year came from a corner from who else, Kirdorf. His official second assist on the day, unofficially third, was the difference maker, as Owen went up, and flicked it just past the Pioneers defenders in the box to put Western in the lead for the final time.

Head coach Dr. Eric Johnson told it was a, “Hard fought win for the team today, We were due for a result, and our persistence and attitude paid off. Denver is a good team and for us to score four goals for the win was fantastic.”

The team will look to keep momentum rolling against Detroit Mercy before heading back on the road to resume Summit League play against Purdue Fort Wayne. Kickoff against Mercy will be at John Mackenzie Alumni field at 3 p.m. on Tuesday