Panthers seek first road win


Jason Howell

Senior Will Butler prepares to clears the ball up the pitch during a match against Western Illinois on Saturday at the Eastern practice field. The Panthers lost to the Leathernecks 1-0.

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

After a crucial conference victory over Fort Wayne, the men’s soccer team goes on the road to face non-conference opponent Northern Kentucky at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

With a 3-8-4 record, Northern Kentucky hails from the Atlantic Sun Conference, and is coming off a loss. Northern Kentucky remains winless in its conference, with a 0-3-1 record.

The first and only time Eastern and Northern Kentucky faced off was last season, when Northern Kentucky defeated Eastern in a game that went into overtime 2-1.

Eastern coach Mark Hansen said the keys to beating Northern Kentucky this year is matching them step for step.

“When looking at NKU, one of the biggest things will be matching their effort and intensity,” Hansen said. “They are extremely well coached and organized. We will need to be more clinical in front of goal to continue on with the successes from Sunday.”

Head coach John Basalyga is in his 10th season at Northern Kentucky. He has a career record of 130-44-19 and he won a national championship back in 2010.

Leading scorers for Northern Kentucky are Clan McDonald and Caleb Eastham with four goals each. McDonald has three assists and 11 points on the year and Eastham has one assist and nine points.

Hansen said Northern Kentucky’s style of play changes to adapt to a variety of tempos.

“One of the things that makes it tough to play NKU is they have the ability to play a variety of styles,” he said. “They are capable of slowing a game down or speeding it up. They can play direct or possess it.”

Junior A.J. Fleak has spent most of the time at goalkeeper this year for Northern Kentucky. His record is 2-5-4 and he has recorded two shutouts. He has given up 19 goals this year, while making 47 saves and has a 1.64 goals against average.

Hansen said he sees some room for improvement despite winning last game against Fort Wayne for the Panthers.

Our biggest thing we need to look at is being better in front of goal,” he said. “I felt even though we played a complete game in our 2-0 win, we made it more difficult because we could of easily won the game by two or three more with the chances we missed.”

It’s been three games since Eastern has been on the road, but Hansen doesn’t see that as being a problem.

“They are excited at an opportunity get back out and to continue to show their development individually and as a team,” he said. “At this point in the season all of them are use to traveling. We are looking at this as great opportunity to build on the steps we took forward as a team on Sunday.”

Eastern hopes to keep its momentum going and earn their first road game victory since 2012.

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