Men’s soccer team back in action after 10 days off

Sophomore+forward+Trevor+Kerns+had+one+shot+on+goal+during+the+Panthers%E2%80%99+1-0+loss+to+Marshall+University+on+Sept.+4+at+Lakeside+Field.+After+being+off+for+10+days%2C+the+Panthers+will+take+on+St.+Ambrose+at+home+Wednesday.

Bryan Bund

Sophomore forward Trevor Kerns had one shot on goal during the Panthers’ 1-0 loss to Marshall University on Sept. 4 at Lakeside Field. After being off for 10 days, the Panthers will take on St. Ambrose at home Wednesday.

JJ Bullock, Men's Soccer Reporter

 

The Eastern men’s soccer team (1-2-1) is set to take on St. Ambrose University (1-3-1) of the Chicagoland Conference in a matchup of two teams that have never met before on Wednesday at Lakeside Field.

St. Ambrose, despite its record, is a team that has had no shortage of success on the offensive side of the ball. The Fighting Bees have scored ten goals this season, including five in a shutout win over Viterbo University, and it is their offensive prowess that has the attention of Eastern men’s soccer coach Kiki Lara.

“I know they’ve scored multiple goals in every game, and they have a very good attacking presence and they’ll have some threatening players,” Lara said. “So I think for us it’s just about figuring them out quickly; we have never played them before, and finishing the (scouting) videos today and just making sure we’re prepared with personnel and making sure we hit our defensive identity.”

The offensive-minded St. Ambrose, which will welcome the return of 2015 leading scorer Michael Ohioze (12 goals, 28 points), should create an entertaining matchup against the Eastern defense, which has surrendered just four goals this season.

“We feel like we’re a team that can control the tempo of the game tomorrow,” Lara said. “We’re going to feel like we can have the possession; we can have the moments of build up play from our backline into the attacking third. I think tomorrow it’s going to be about finishing our chances that we get, because we’re going to get them.”

Lara added that the defense is going to have to have a strong outing against the Fighting Bees.

“I think defensively, we have to be strong and sound because if we don’t get with our chances, if were not critical, then the longer the game goes it could get dangerous,” he said. “They’re a team that could score goals. So we just got to make sure that when we get our chances, we take them.”

It is said in sports that confidence is key, and the Eastern men’s soccer team has no shortage of that heading into this matchup.

“The guys feel good. I feel like the guys have a lot of belief in what they’re doing and what their daily habits are,” Lara said. “It’s just a matter of time for them to start to really click and get used to things. We still have a very dominant freshman and sophomore group of guys that are starting and playing and participating. So (it’s) a young team, and it’s going to take some time for them to mesh and get together. But I think they have a lot of belief in what they’re doing.”

The Panthers will have had plenty of time to prepare for St. Ambrose, as it has been 10 days since Eastern last played a game. Lara has been sure to make the time off beneficial, using the 10 days to make sure his team is top notch physically.

“First recovery, then building the fitness. We came in at a fairly good fitness level; we take pride in being more physically fit than our opponent and for us that’s been the case for a majority of our matches and so we take pride in that,” Lara said. “We wanted to get to the point where that becomes exceptional; there isn’t another period of time where we can. Now, the games are going to come closer and closer between each other, so it’s more about recovery at that point. So we did use the time to push our physical fitness to a higher level and really hit those defensive principles.”

Eastern will also enter the matchup with relatively good health after the long break in games.

“We’re getting more healthy than not. We’ve maintained that the last couple of weeks,” Lara said. “There are a couple of guys that are picking up some knocks recently that have had some minutes, but they should be OK by conference time. There’s nothing that’s been devastating or critical.”

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]