The Eastern men’s soccer team hosts defending Summit League champion Denver at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lakeside Field, marking the Panthers’ conference home opener.
Denver is coached by Bobby Muuss, who is in his eighth season with the program. The Pioneers are 6-3 after winning their Summit League-opener 4-0 over Oral Roberts Saturday at home, which was their 12th straight home victory.
Muuss led Denver to a 13-win season last year breaking the Division I school record for the most wins in a season. Denver was undefeated in conference play, winning six of their 13 games against Summit League teams.
Denver also broke Division I records in shutouts, (11) consecutive shutouts, (five) consecutive scoreless minutes, (584) consecutive wins (eight) and consecutive unbeaten matches (15). Muuss was named Coach of the year.
Denver beat Eastern 2-0 last year, winning the first meeting between both teams. Despite its 6-3 record this season, Denver is 0-2 on the road, with losses against San Diego State and Utah Valley.
Eastern head coach Mark Hansen said the Panthers are looking forward to finally playing a home game after four straight road games.
“The biggest key to beating Denver is matching their intensity and taking the game to them,” he said. “There is a reason they are the top team in conference and they have a target on their back but we’ve been on the road for the last three weeks, four games in a row, so we’re excited to get home and to try and get started on a winning streak here starting with Denver on Saturday.”
Senior goalkeeper for Denver, Oliver Brown, had an off-season surgery on his shoulder but has shown no effects of it in the five games he has played this year with the record of 4-1 and two shutouts. He was named the Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year last season and made the All-Summit League first team.
Red-shirt senior Chris Boswell transferred to Eastern from Denver after his freshman year there in 2010. He has played in all eight games this year for the Panthers.
Boswell was familiar with the University of Denver coming out of high school since he lived there for two years, when he was in fifth and sixth grade.
“I had heard of the University of Denver and they were definitely one of my top choices coming out of high school,” Boswell said. “I went on an official visit there and loved it and the assistant coach came to one of my games and liked what he saw so I decided to go there.”
The decision to transfer to Eastern came from the amount of playing time he was getting with the Pioneers.
“I loved Denver when I was there, it was beautiful, the campus was great and I loved all my friends there, but the soccer didn’t work out in terms of playing,” he said. “I decided to leave because I wanted to play.”
Although Boswell has been away from Denver since 2010, he still carries some close ties from his previous school.
“I still have some really good friends that I still talk to today, Cole Chapleski, he’s working for them as the director of operations for the team now because he graduated last year,” he said. “He’s one of my best friend’s to this day.”
In 2011 and 2012, Boswell was awarded the Summit League Fall Academic Honor Roll and in 2012-13 year he won the Summit League Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence.
“You just have to be on top of things pretty much, just putting in effort and really what it is for me is that I am enjoying what I’m doing academically,” he said. “I was an electronic media major, I graduated last May and I just really enjoy all the video productions I was doing so it wasn’t hard to give my full effort in class and go to class because I just enjoyed it.”
Boswell is currently a graduate student at Eastern.
“Right now I’m in graduate school for computer technology, so my plan is to work for a video production company,” he said. “Something like Go Pro or Nike and make commercials and things like that.”
Coming to Eastern brought Boswell back the excitement of soccer after minimal playing time at Denver.
“Coming to EIU, I got my enjoyment factor back,” Boswell said. “I just started enjoying soccer and enjoying playing and this game coming up Saturday against my former team is going to be really exciting. Win or lose its just going to be great to be on the field against them.”
Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]