The Eastern men’s soccer team will be fighting for a Summit League tournament berth in its matchup against the IUPUI Jaguars on Saturday evening.
The stakes are very high for the Panthers, who control their own destiny at this point, as a win or tie could very well put them in the postseason for the first time since 2008.
They travel to Indianapolis to take on the Jaguars, who are 1-15-1 overall and 0-5 in conference play.
Eastern is 5-10-1 coming into the match and 2-3 in Summit League. Coming off of a 3-1 loss to Cincinnati, the Panthers were riding a three-game winning streak before they made up the postponed match on Tuesday.
Freshman Jonathan Huerta recorded his first career goal on Tuesday to prevent the shutouts.
Freshman Alex Castaneda leads the team with his three goals this season.
Junior defender Zac Medawattage said the team knows what it has to do when it comes to preparation.
“We are just trying to stay focused and take it one day at a time,” he said. “We know what we have to do, and we’ll be ready.”
Junior goalkeeper Mike Novotny comes into the match ranked second in the Summit League with 53 saves and a 3.53 saves per game average.
He ranks third in the conference with a 1.28 goals against average and a .74 save percentage.
Medawattage said they have a different but good feeling about this match as it approaches.
“It has a different feel because we know so much is on the line,” he said. “But I would say it’s a good feeling we have going into it.”
Under first-year head coach Brian Barnett, the Jaguars have struggle this season but have shown some fight with forcing double overtime in two of their last three games.
They lost to Summit League opponent Fort Wayne 3-2 in extra time and tied Northern Kentucky before being blown out 5-0 to Valparaiso their last time out.
The leading scorer for IUPUI’s offense is Uriel Macias, who has three goals on the season giving him six points.
Pape Ndiaye is the team leader in shots on goal with 16 and has two goals for four points on the year.
Joshua Ayala, Pedro Valladao and Ben Thornton are all tied for the most assists on the team with two.
Josh Gray is the starting goalkeeper for the Jaguars and 72 saves on the season.
He has a save percentage of .643 and a goals against average of 2.64.
He is responsible for the team’s lone win this year that came by a shutout.
The match is at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Indianapolis.
Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]