Men’s Soccer loses conference opener

Mark Shanahan , Staff Reporter

For the second game in a row, the Eastern men’s soccer team was shutout after losing 1-0 to Omaha to open Summit League play in Omaha, Neb., on Saturday.

Eastern was outshot 13-3 and had just one shot on goal from Chris Boswell. Will Butler and Tayron Martin also had shots, but they were not on goal for the Panthers. Eastern is now 2-6 overall, while dropping its conference opener.

Eastern has not won its first conference game in the Summit League, since joining in 2011.

After a scoreless first half, Omaha senior Vance Rookwood scored in the 77th minute and it turned out to be the game-winning goal. It was his fifth goal of the year, as Christian Garcia was credited with the assist. Rookwood is Omaha’s leading scorer with nine points and has two game-winning goals this season.

Eastern head coach Mark Hansen had praise for the lone goal of the game.

“It was a well taken goal,” Hansen said. “You have to tip your hat to that goal.”

Hansen also said that his team gave Omaha a fight for 90 minutes and that no changes are needed to be made. He said the Panthers simply did not get as many chances as they would like.

Eastern is now 0-5 on the road this season, with only two goals in the five defeats.

Freshman goalkeeper Mike Novotny made two saves for Eastern, while opposing goalie Joseph Ghitis had to make just one save in the shutout victory. Ghitis is 2-2 on the year now and Novotny is 2-3. The 1-0 win was Ghitis’ first career shutout.

Felipe da Silva and Andres Irvin each received yellow cards during the match for Omaha. Eastern was not given any penalties. Omaha is 4-3-1 on the year and 1-0 in conference play.

Despite the loss, Hansen still had a positive attitude, as the Panthers prepare for their next opponent.

“We are going to continue to work a little bit harder,” he said. “We need to move the ball quicker.”

Eastern’s conference home opener starts at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lakeside Field, where the Panthers will host Denver.

Around the Summit League:

Denver is 6-3 and 1-0 in conference after a 4-0 win at home against Oral Roberts. The Pioneers were undefeated in conference play last year and won the conference tournament.

Fort Wayne is 3-3-3 and 1-0 in conference after winning 4-0 against IUPUI. With that win Fort Wayne matched its conference win total from last season.

Western Illinois is 4-4-1 and has yet to open up conference play. The Leathernecks finished fourth in the Summit League after going 3-3 in conference play last year. Western starts league play at noon Saturday in Macomb, against Fort Wayne.

Oral Roberts is 3-3-1 and 0-1 in conference. The Golden Eagles have a non-conference game Tuesday before hosting Omaha at 7 p.m. Saturday in Tulsa, Okla.

Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]