Men’s soccer finishes with draw, loss over weekend

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

Sophomore midfielder Brendan McDonough attempts to block a pass during Sunday’s 1-2 loss to Milwaukee at Judah Christian High School in Champaign.
Justin Brown
Sophomore midfielder Brendan McDonough attempts to block a pass during Sunday’s 1-2 loss to Milwaukee at Judah Christian High School in Champaign.

The Eastern men’s soccer team opened up the season with a 1-1 draw against Northern Kentucky that lasted nearly four hours due to a lightning delay.

This is the first time Eastern was able to get a result against Northern Kentucky after losing to the Norse the past three years. This also marks the first time that the Panthers have opened up their season with a draw.

The start of the game was delayed by lightning, but as soon as play started, freshmen Alessandro Corti, Anton Olsson and Marcus Menniti each earned their first start as Panthers. Neither team was able to get on the scoreboard in the first half as lightning struck again just before half in the 43rd minute.

The Panthers had the advantage in shots up to that point leading the Norse, 3-1. Senior Davis Wegmann had the best opportunity for the Panthers in the first half, the only player in the game to get a shot on goal.

Following the rain delay, sophomore Julian Montoya was dragged down in the penalty area while making a run, setting the Panthers up for a penalty kick. Wegmann stepped up to take the shot and was successful as he shot it to the low left corner just past the reach of the Norse goalkeeper.

The Norse tied the game up at one with a goal by Campbell Morris in the 66th minute. Morris was set up by teammate Bastian Beckers who headed the ball to him in the box. Neither team was able to score in the two overtime periods, and the game ended as a 1-1 tie.

Wegmann finished with two shots on goal, and Montoya had one shot on goal. Junior goalkeeper Mike Novotny played all 120 minutes for Eastern, but he did not record a save in the match.

Novotny took some positives from the weekend games.

“The big thing to come out of these games is our fitness,” he said. “After a 120-minute game on Friday, the guys came out playing well today. We had many glimpses of quality possession throughout both games.”

On Sunday, the Panthers were forced to play their home opener in Champaign because of a flooded Lakeside Field. Eastern fell to Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon, 2-1, the Panthers’ only goal came on another penalty kick.

After a scoreless first half for both teams, Milwaukee opened up the scoring with a goal by Kostas Kotselas in the 54th minute. Nick Moon assisted him for his first goal of the season.

Eastern quickly answered with a goal on a penalty kick by junior Justin Oliver for his first goal of the season. The deciding goal came in the 76th minute with a goal from Francesco Saporito for Milwaukee. Eastern was only able to get one shot for the rest of the game falling to 0-1-1 on the season.

The Panthers were outshot 12-8 with four shots on goal, compared to Milwaukee’s five shots on goal. Each goalie came away with three saves in the game. Wegmann, Olsson and Montoya each received yellow cards in the game.

Novotny talked about some things that are key to work on going forward.

“The key now is to finish the game with our style of play and to minimize errors in the back and midfield,” he said. “We are creating many quality chances to score in front of goal, which is a massive improvement from last year.”

Eastern is back in action Friday with a home game against Green Bay at noon. The game is expected to be at Lakeside field.

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