Men’s soccer starts road trip at WMU

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

Junior Zach Medawattge looks for an open teammate to pass to during Wednesday's match againts Saint Ambrose. Medawattge exited the match in the first half with an injury and is currently day-to-day.
Justin Brown
Junior Zach Medawattage looks for an open teammate to pass to during Wednesday’s match againts Saint Ambrose. Medawattage exited the match in the first half with an injury and is currently day-to-day.

The men’s soccer team will face a tough task when they travel to Western Michigan this Sunday after a recent four-game home stand.

The Broncos are coming in at No. 5 for the second week in a row in the Great Lakes Region. They have also received votes for the national poll coming in at No. 30 unofficially. Western Michigan sports a record of 5-1, four of those wins have been shutouts.

While the Broncos have been tough to score against, their offense has been hard to stop as they are outscoring their opponents 14-2 this season. WMU is ranked top 10 in the nation for team goals against average (7), total goals (5), total assists (4), and total points (5).

Western Michigan has played two Summit League opponents that Eastern will see in the near future and beat them both. The Broncos played Fort Wayne and IUPUI earlier this month and beat Fort Wayne 2-1 and IUPUI 6-0. WMU also beat Marshall this year 2-0, a team Eastern was beaten by 1-0.

Men’s soccer coach Kiki Lara said WMU will be similar to teams they’ve played, much like most teams in the Midwest region.

“They’ll be similar in some ways,” he said. “In terms of rankings, everyone where Western Michigan, we’re similar built teams, but they’re a very strong opponent.”

Junior Brandon Bye is the team leader with 14 points on five goals and four assists. Bye has scored a goal in four of the six games the team has played so far this season and was just recently named Mid-American Conference Player of the Week. He is ranked 11 in the nation in points per game and 25 in goals per game.

Lara talked about what has made Western Michigan successful.

“They’ve been successful,” he said. “They’ve had things figured out there at Western Michigan for three, four years. I think they have a continuity in their coaching staff, they have continuity in the type of players they get and I think they just play with a chip on their shoulder and that makes them successful for sure.”

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Drew Shepherd is ranked eighth for goals against average in the nation with an average of .333. Shepherd is responsible for all four shutouts the team has this year.

For the Panthers, they received good news on junior defender Zach Medeawattage who went down with an injury in Wednesday night’s game. Lara said that he is day-to-day right now and it does not seem like anything major. If Medeawattage is not able to go on Sunday, Lara said junior Tyler Enright would play center back for the Panthers.

The game is set to begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

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