Men’s soccer season comes to end in first found of Summit League Tournament

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

The Eastern men’s soccer team’s season came to an end Thursday afternoon with a 3-1 loss to the tournament No. 1 seed Omaha Mavericks.

Although the chance for its first postseason win did not go as well as they hoped, Eastern’s young team got postseason experience that will help them moving forward.

Freshman Jonathan Huerta made a big impact for the Panthers and was the lone goal scorer in the 73rd minute to help avoid the shutout. Huerta scored on a free kick from 24 yards out on a shot to the upper-right corner. It was a no-doubter as goalkeeper Joseph Ghitis for Omaha did not even move from his position in the net.

Omaha came out on the attack right away, similar to the match earlier in the season and it resulted in a goal in the 11th minute. The goal came from Fazlo Alihodzic on a free kick from about 25 yards and the low cross managed to slip past junior goalkeeper Mike Novotny.

Omaha added its second goal of the game in the 26th minute with a header from Elvir Ibisevic. The header came off a cross from Mark Moulton who sent it from the far side of the field to Ibisevic who snuck it past Novotny. The Mavericks took the 2-0 lead into halftime. The Panthers were outshot 8-2 in the first half and did not have a shot on goal until Huerta sent one right past Ghitis in the 32nd minute.

Midway through the second half, the Mavericks took the commanding 3-0 lead on a goal from Noor Hamadi in the 61st minute. Moulton’s cross went through the box and Novotny collided with an Omaha player going for the ball and went down, but the ball went past them to Hamadi who sent a header into the empty net. Novotny was slow to get up and came out of the game with the help of a trainer.

Redshirt freshman R.J. Hill filled in for the remainder of the game. Hill had appeared in two games this season before entering the tournament game. The Panthers fought till the end, and it showed with the late goal from Huerta.

Eastern was outshot in the game 16-5 and shots on goal 5-2. Freshman Alex Castaneda and senior Davis Wegmann were the other two Panthers to record shots other than Huerta. Novotny and Hill each had one save in the game. Ghitis recorded one save for Omaha.

This was the last game as a Panther for seniors Wegmann, Tim Pieper, Gabriel Puga and Miguel Carillo. Eastern closes out the season with a 5-12-1 record, and Omaha advances to the championship game on Saturday to face Denver.

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