Men’s soccer plays season finale at Oral Roberts

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Men’s soccer plays season finale at Oral Roberts

Senior Will Butler goes in for the slide tackle  during the Panthers' 4-3 extra time loss to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Tuesday at Lakeside Field.

Senior Will Butler goes in for the slide tackle during the Panthers' 4-3 extra time loss to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Tuesday at Lakeside Field.

Jason Howell

Senior Will Butler goes in for the slide tackle during the Panthers' 4-3 extra time loss to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Tuesday at Lakeside Field.

Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Senior Will Butler goes in for the slide tackle during the Panthers' 4-3 extra time loss to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Tuesday at Lakeside Field.

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

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Oral Roberts can really blow its chances at making the Summit League tournament with a loss against the Eastern men’s soccer team, starting at 7 p.m. Saturday in Tulsa, Okla.

Eastern faces a must-win scenario to keep its hopes of a conference tournament bid alive, as the Panthers finish their regular season with their trip to Tulsa.

Oral Roberts is 7-7-2 and 2-2-1 in conference this season. The Golden Eagles have played well at home with a 5-1-1 record. They are currently on a two-game winning streak where they shutout both Western Illinois and Central Arkansas.

Red-shirt senior Johnny Chavez is Oral Roberts’ leading scorer with eight goals and two assists for a total of 18 points. Two of his goals this season have been game winners. The Golden Eagles’ second leading scorer is sophomore Matthew Rogers with three goals and four assists. Rogers has 10 points this year.

Sophomore Ben LaCourse is the goalkeeper for Oral Roberts and he has a 7-7-2 record. He has four shutouts this year and one of the notable shutouts was against conference leader Western Illinois. He has given up 26 goals while making 72 saves giving him a 1.66 goals against average.

Eastern head coach Mark Hansen is aware of how close Eastern has been in almost all its games this year.

“When 10 of your 12 games are decided by one goal you’re doing a lot of things right, but there is obviously things that you are not doing right because you’re not the team on the winning side,” Hansen said.

Ryan Bush took over as head coach at Oral Roberts last season after coaching the women’s soccer team for the previous five years. In his first year, he led his team to a 6-8-1 record with a 3-2-1 record in conference, which gave them a second place finish and a Summit League tournament bid.

Eastern earned its only conference win against Oral Roberts last year in the second half of overtime 2-1. Eastern leads the all-time series against the Golden Eagles 5-3-1. Eastern has won two of the last three meetings.

Hansen said the Panthers would be getting a different look compared to last season’s Oral Roberts team.

“It’s a little bit of a different team than last year,” he said. “Last year they were a very defensive organized, very structured and wanted to win games 1-0. This year they are much more open. They have some very good players on attack.”

This is a must win game for both sides. Eastern sits at the bottom of the conference, but the Panthers are still within reach to make the conference tournament. Oral Roberts also sits on the outside looking in and needs a win to have chance of making it.

Hansen went through the scenario that needs to happen if Eastern beats Oral Roberts.

 

“First and foremost we have to do our part and win the game on Saturday,” he said. “We then will turn our attention to the Denver game. We need Western to win and then it comes down to multiple tiebreakers after that. If we don’t get in because of a tiebreaker that will only help this team going forward to understand that you can’t miss out on opportunities when you have them.”

Eastern is leaving Friday morning for the eight-hour trip to Tulsa, but some construction could push the trip to 12 hours.

 

Mark Shanahan can be reached at [email protected]