Panthers reach postseason tournament despite loss

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Eastern men’s soccer team was defeated 1-0 on Saturday night by the IUPUI Jaguars, but it still earned a spot in the Summit League postseason tournament.

The Jaguars scored late in the game to earn the victory over the Panthers.

With the loss, Eastern finishes the regular season with a 5-11-1 overall record and 2-4 in Summit League play.

The win for IUPUI was its first conference win, and the season ends for them as they finish 2-15-1 overall and 1-5 in the conference.

The Panthers qualified as the fourth and final spot in the conference tournament after beating out Oral Roberts and Fort Wayne in a three-way tiebreaker.

The last time Eastern made it to the conference tournament was in 2008 as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.

IUPUI came out with an offense attack to start the game on Saturday night.

All four of its shots on goal came in the first seven minutes of the game.

The Panthers were able to settle in on defense after that and did not allow any more shots on goal for the rest of the first half.

Eastern had three shots on goal in the first half from freshmen Jonathan Huerta and Marcus Menniti and another one from sophomore Kris Luke.

The Jaguars goalkeeper Josh Gray and Eastern goalkeeper Mike Novotny were both able to keep the game tied at zero heading into the half with three saves each.

Both teams remained scoreless until the 85th minute when IUPUI scored the game winner.

A shot by Uriel Macias was blocked and fell to the feet of Pedro Valladao who shot it to the top right corner of the net from 16 yards out.

The Panthers tried to respond in the final minutes with shots from sophomore Christian Sosnowski and freshman Alex Castaneda.

Novotny stepped up with a header from an Eastern corner, but the Panthers were unable to get the tying goal.

Novotny and Gray each finished with five saves in the game.

Huerta led the Panthers with three shots, one on goal, and Sosnowski had two shots in the game with one of them on goal.

Sean Siasa and Valladao led IUPUI with two shots on goal each.

Next up for the Panthers is the Summit League tournament, as they will take on the No. 1 seed Omaha in the first round Thursday.

The tournament will be played in Denver.

Denver and Western Illinois were the other teams that qualified for the tournament; they will play on Thursday also.

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