Column: Men’s soccer team needs to find its identity again

JJ Bullock, Men's Soccer Reporter

 

On Sunday, the Eastern men’s soccer team was uncharacteristically poor on defense in a 3-2 loss to Western Michigan.

Normally a team that takes pride in its defensive ability, Eastern gave up a season high in goals (3) and shots on goal (21) in the loss. Prior to the defeat, the Panthers had only given up five goals and 43 shots on goal in their first five games.

On Wednesday, Eastern will find itself on the road again to face Wright State, and to come away with a win, the Panthers must regain their defensive prowess.

Wright State is no Western Michigan; Western Michigan is one of the top programs in the country and boasts one of the more potent offensive attacks in the NCAA. However, Wright State has shown it can score and get to the net in bunches.

The Raiders have totaled 99 shots on goal through their first seven games of the season, including 25 in one contest against the University of Cincinnati.

In order to prevent Wright State from creating havoc near the net, Eastern must get back to the defensive style of play that was so effective in the early parts of the season.

If they do not, it could be a long day for the Panthers.

Eastern will be tasked with getting back to its defensive roots without the help of junior defenseman Zach Medawattage, who will be missing his second straight game because of injury.

Coming off a poor defensive performance, losing a starting defender and coming up against a strong offensive team, the cards are stacked against Eastern defensively.

But Eastern men’s coach Kiki Lara was confident his team would bounce back from the loss and regain their defensive identity.

“Opposite of disappointed,” Lara said Sunday after the loss. “Western Michigan has one of the best offenses in our region, and the boys played very disciplined and grew a ton with the details required to compete with a team that will be ranked in the top 30 this week. The goals against were all goals that can be trained and made adjustments to.”

To pull out a win on the road against Wright State, Eastern must be running on all cylinders on defense.

If they can get back to their gritty and hard-working approach on defense, the Panthers should have no problem picking up their third win of the season.

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