Men’s soccer team to open up at Xavier


Jason Howell

Former Eastern player Will Butler moves the ball around Western's Armel Kouassi during a match on Oct. 18 2014 at the Eastern practice field.

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

Eastern men’s soccer opens up its season tomorrow night against Big East foe Xavier. This will be new head coach Kiki Lara’s first of four road tests to kick off the year.

Lara talked about what it is like to start off with four consecutive road games.

“In Division 1 college soccer every team has got to travel and I think that there is a lot of excitement that comes with getting the group together and going towards the contest and focusing in a group,” he said. “I don’t look at it as a challenge. I look at it as more opportunities to grow and get better and it’s always exciting playing at other people’s places and really looking to kind of make a mark for the program to showcase us a little bit.”

Xavier is ranked No. 19 in the preseason NSCAA poll following a year where they went 15-6-2, leading them to a first-ever run to the third round of the NCAA tournament.

They return an eight-man senior class and three of their top four scorers from last year. Those returning are sophomore Matt Vasquenza who had seven goals and six assists, senior Alex Ridsdale who had five goals and four assists, and junior Jalen Brown who had four goals and two assists.

Lara talked about what he has seen on his study of Xavier.

“There’s nothing specifically that I’ve never seen coming from Xavier,” he said. “They’re experienced, and they have always had a high work ethic in things. Those match up very well for us because for me, this group is young and hungry and wants to make a name for itself so that’s always a good thing to go against some experience.”

Last year was a historic one for Xavier; they earned the programs first ever Big East Championship, set the program record for wins (15), shutouts (11), and team GAA (0.84). The team also moved down the rankings to No. 9 during the year, which was the highest ranking by any non-basketball athletic program in school history.

Xavier is one of 15 teams nationally with five consecutive ten-plus win seasons and just one of 19 to make it to the NCAA tournament in four of the past five years.

Sophomore Dominic Recca returns for Eastern as the second leading scorer for the team last year with four goals and three assists. He had 11 points last year.

Eastern will be meeting Xavier for the fourth time in history and for the first time since 1987. The Panthers lead the all-time series 2-0-1.


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