The Eastern men’s soccer team dropped its fourth-straight game with a 3-0 loss to the Valparaiso Crusaders on Tuesday.
The 3-0 loss was the second time the Panthers have been shut out this season and the first time that they have lost by more than one goal.
Eastern is now 2-6-1 on the season, while Valparaiso improves to 4-2-2 with the victory.
Men’s coach Kiki Lara gave redshirt freshman R.J. Hill the start at goalkeeper for Eastern, which was his first career start.
Hill was kept very busy through the full 90 minutes as he was asked to make nine saves off of Valparaiso’s 18 shots.
Lara said that what Valparaiso did well was capitalize on Eastern’s mistakes.
“Just some individual mistakes and we have to get better at that stuff,” he said.
The Crusaders began their scoring in the 15th minute with a goal from Kendan Anderson, who was assisted by Chris Villalobos. Anderson shot the ball past Hill from a stolen ball outside of the penalty box.
The game looked like it was going to go into the half 1-0 until Valparaiso got a rebound off of a Hill save and passed it to Suleiman Thomas for the score. The 43rd-minute goal was assisted by Isaiah Madrid.
The Panthers went into the half with two shots on goal.
Lara talked about halftime adjustments and what he told his team at the half.
“For us, it’s just staying the course and wanting to win the half,” he said. “We didn’t win the half; we lost 1-0 the second half. Just staying in the game and we really knew that if we just got one goal we could get back in it, and we didn’t.”
The second half of the game started off quiet until Madrid scored a goal in the 67th minute from a pass by Anderson.
Madrid was able to get the ball past Hill from the top of the seven-yard box. Madrid was the team leader for Valparaiso with four shots on goal, while tallying a goal and assist.
Eastern finished with 11 shots, three of them on goal. Valparaiso started Nico Campbell at goalkeeper but replaced him at half with Nacho Miras. Campbell made two saves in the first half, and Miras made one in the second half to secure the team shutout.
Lara’s message to the team after the game was to stay focused moving forward.
“Just focus on playing good soccer,” he said. “We’re young, we’re developing and that’s what we have to do. Just keep focusing on playing consistent, chipping away and not worry about anything else but getting better on day-to-day performance.”
It does not get much easier from here for Eastern as the No. 8 ranked Denver Pioneers come to town on Saturday.
Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]