Men’s soccer team falls short of expectations


Sean Hastings

Members of the Eastern men’s soccer team huddle up before their final game of the season against Omaha on Saturday. The Panthers finished with a 1-5 record in Summit League conference play.

Maher Kawash, Staff Reporter

The Eastern men’s soccer team came into this season with a new coach, and plenty of optimism as there was hope of improving on a previous three win season.

Now the season has officially come to a close, it ends in similar fashion as the Panthers finished with just three wins on the season for the second consecutive year.

The Panthers ended the season on a four game losing streak and with an over record of 3-14 as well as a 1-5 record in Summit League play.

“I think we underperformed as a team all season, and were unlucky with the way some of the game results ended up going,” sophomore Tyler Oliver said. “We had no finish this season and a poor record.”

After beginning the season at 2-2, there was a strong belief that the team was trending upwards en route to competing for a conference title.

But, after starting the season at .500, the Panthers endured the program’s longest losing streak since 2003 as the hopes of a conference title slowly diminished with each loss.

Coach Kiki Lara brought in a wave of change into the program, and many players bought into his mentality senior midfielder Nick Smith said.

“Coach Lara has begun the process of developing a completely new program here at EIU,” Smith said. “He is establishing a soccer-centric program with a transparent cultural identity upon which the team will be built for years to come.”

Even though Lara couldn’t coach the Panthers to a winning record, he brought a change to the program that will get them going in the right direction sophomore Justin Oliver said.

“He brought in a big change by bringing in a lot of new players as well as a lot of new tactics that we are still working on,” sophomore forward Justin Oliver said.

Although the team did not boast a good win percentage, there is still common belief among the team that there was improvement along the way as well as a road paved for the future of the program.

“Over the season we improved on actually finishing games, and playing the whole 90 minutes,” sophomore goalkeeper Mike Novotny said. “The expectation for next year is to win more games and keep growing from where we were this year.”

The future is certainly something to be excited about for this program as they held 23 underclassmen on the team this season.

“The future of this team is extremely bright when you look at the percentage of minutes, and output that is coming back for us next season,” Tyler said.

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]