Western Illinois will take on in-state rival Eastern Illinois for their last home game of the year. The Leathernecks will head to battle with emotions high as a win or tie cements an appearance into The Summit League Tournament for the four players Western will honor on senior day.
For the last time in 2019, fans will watch the men’s soccer team compete at John Mackenzie Alumni field in hopes to get back to postseason play after missing The Summit League tourney last year. It will be Tim Trilk, Gimmale Essacu, Christian Junna and Thomas Hollis last time suiting up at home under the direction of head coach Eric Johnson.
The four players will be honored during the pre-game festivities, Hollis the only non-senior being honored is listed as a junior, but his playing days are almost over. Trilk is the only senior that has played for Western all four years as the other three all came in two years ago through the transfer portal.
Trilk’s in the midst of his best season as he is currently fifth in Division 1 and second in The Summit League with 66 saves. He has two clean sheets and is coming off a Summit League Defensive Player of the week award. He has been a leader for his team and continues to dominate in between the posts.
Essacu is from Papua New Guinea. That alone does not prove his talents, but being selected to the U-23 national team should. The national team was looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo earlier in September. He is back with the team and is looking to make an impact in the final games for Western.
Junna has been a defensive anchor for the team this year. His leadership has helped Western rally from starting 0-11 to being in a prime position to return to postseason play. Hollis hardly plays for Western. He has only played in five games this year but will look to Senior Day to make a name for himself.
A big game for Western as they only have two conference games remaining, the last against Oral Roberts who has not lost a game in The Summit League yet. Western can still make The Summit League tournament if they don’t win either game but is in control of their own destiny with a win or a tie.
The in-state rival has a 4-7-2 overall record, and a struggling 0-1-2 conference record which puts them fourth in The Summit League, trailing Western by five points. Western will look to Ryan Debois to continue his hot streak after scoring in his fourth straight game, earning him a Summit League Player of the Week award. The striker off the bench has been a determining factor in the recent success on the team.
The Cougars will look to forward Shady Omar who leads the team with three goals. Can Western return to The Summit League tournament? Saturday the answer comes.