With a seven-game losing streak and almost a month since the last win, the time is now for the Eastern men’s soccer team to turn it around with a trip to face the Northern Illinois Huskies on Tuesday night.
While they haven’t been winning, they also haven’t been scoring. The Panthers have been shutout in four consecutive games. Last time out, the Panthers had some chances from freshman Alex Castaneda against Omaha. Castaneda’s three shots on goal are a sign progress is being made on the offensive side of the ball.
Junior goalkeeper Mike Novotny made a season high five saves in the 2-0 loss to Omaha on Saturday.
NIU is 1-5-4 this year and has not won on their home field this season. They come into Tuesday’s match up on two straight ties against University of Illinois Chicago and Western Michigan. The tie against Western Michigan was their first conference game of the season putting their record at 0-0-1 in Mid American Conference play.
NIU and Eastern both faced off against University of Milwaukee this season with NIU winning 2-1. The 2-1 score was also the same score as the Eastern and U of M matchup, except the Panthers were on the losing end.
The leading scorers for the Huskies, Kevin Rodriguez and Max Voss each have two goals. Rodriguez is the leading point leader with five due to an assist he has. The Huskies have just five goals on the season, with the other goal from Richard Hall, who also has an assist.
Goalkeeper Drew Donnally has started nine of the 10 games for NIU this season. He has 37 saves and a goals against average of 1.55. Goalkeeper Christoph Koninger played one game and had 11 saves, while giving up one goal. That match ended in a draw.
This will be the 27th time the schools have met and Eastern currently holds the advantage 15-8-3 in the all-time series. The Huskies topped the Panthers last year on a double overtime goal to win it.
Eastern will have a new look for the Huskies this year with many newcomers seeing action this season. Freshmen Anton Olsson, Marcus Menniti, Jonathan Huerta and Tyler Enright have been in all 12 games for the Panthers this year. Castaneda and freshman Yann Nsoga have also seen a lot of time. Nsoga leads the team in assists with two.
The four-game road trip and non-conference schedule will come to an end Wednesday, Oct. 19 when Eastern travels to Cincinnati. After that they’ll be home for two games and away for the last to finish out the year.
Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]