Men’s soccer team still has chance to play in postseason

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

Freshman Anton Olsson fights for the ball to keep it out of the Panther zone Saturday.
Bryan Bund
Freshman Anton Olsson fights for the ball to keep it out of the Panther zone Saturday.

The Eastern men’s soccer team has had its share of ups and downs this season after starting 2-2-1, followed by a seven game losing streak and then getting back into the conference race by winning two straight Summit League matches.

The last time Eastern has made it to the postseason was in 2008, when they were apart of the Missouri Valley Conference. They have yet to qualify for the Summit League postseason since re-joining the league in 2011.

Denver and Omaha have already secured their spots in the Summit League postseason tournament since they tied each other and have not lost a conference match. Denver is 5-0-1 and Omaha is 4-0-1 with a final match with Oral Roberts on Saturday.

After Denver and Omaha, there is a four-way tie right now for the final two spots in the conference tournament. Fort Wayne, Western Illinois, Oral Roberts and Eastern each have a 2-3 record in conference play. Eastern has put itself in a good spot with wins over Fort Wayne and Western Illinois because they now have the tiebreaker.

Fort Wayne and Western Illinois face-off on Saturday, and the winner of that game will almost certainly earn a spot in the tournament. Oral Roberts, like Eastern, controls its own destiny with a game against Omaha. If they defeat Omaha then they will make it into the tournament.

Eastern looks to have the most favorable matchup against the IUPUI Jaguars who are 1-15-1 this season and 0-5 in conference play. The Panthers need to win since they have the tiebreaker over both Western and Fort Wayne. This is a win and you are in scenario for Eastern, but a tie may also get them in too.

If Oral Roberts fails to beat Omaha, then the winner of Western and Fort Wayne will get in. If Eastern were to win, then they would either face Denver or Omaha who have the one and two seeds locked up. Eastern played Denver close this year and fell 1-0 at home. The Panthers were not able to record a shot on goal, but had a couple opportunities in the loss.

Eastern also played Omaha well this season in a 2-0 loss on the road. The Panthers had as many shots in the game as Omaha (11) and had four shots on goal, but were not able to get one on the board. The two goals in the first half were too much to overcome for the Panthers on the road.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the league’s conference tournament location this year is in Denver, Colo. The Panthers are 1-6-1 on the road this season and the lone win came against Northern Illinois. Denver is 8-0 at home this season and was undefeated in the regular season at home last season also. Omaha is 3-3-1 on the road this season.

Eastern will play on Saturday for its chance to earn a postseason berth.

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