Eastern’s Fabio Callado tore off his shirt and sprinted across the field while his teammates erupted into a frenzy of celebration and pursued him toward the bleachers.
In this moment, the Panthers were the loudest they have been all season.
Callado broke a 0-0 tie in double overtime and given his team a 1-0 win at Lakeside Field on Saturday against Oral Roberts.
Earlier in the game Callado could do nothing more than throw his arms up in exasperation when his shot on the net sailed wide, narrowly missing its mark.
The missed shot and the collective reaction of frustration from Eastern was a culmination of the Panthers offensive struggles.
Prior to the game-winning goal by Callado, Eastern was in the midst of a seven-game scoreless streak, making the goal not only a game-winner, but a season changer.
Callado’s goal came in the 104th minute of the game and was assisted by Yann Nsoga.
It was Callado’s first goal of the season.
The goal-scoring play was one that head coach Kiki Lara said the Panthers have practiced hundreds of times and this time it worked and gave Eastern its first win and goal since Sept. 10.
“It’s a perfect example of chipping away at the rock that we have been talking about all season long,” Lara said. “We played a very good game against a very good opponent and we have been on the other side of that and it’s difficult, I have a lot of respect for them. Our guys have been working very hard and it was our day today.”
The scoreless streak ended by Callado’s goal is something the Panthers are ready to put behind them. Likewise, while the postgame celebrations went on, Lara knew it was also time to think about the next games.
“Tomorrow is time to move on, that’s the thing we have to prep for the next match on Tuesday and that’s just it,” Lara said. “But really the main focus is on IPFW, that’s the last conference game of the year. Goal scoring, just like goals against can’t be one of those things that you worry about. You go day by day and focus on doing good habits.”
The Panthers had 14 shots, five on goal, miss their marks in the game before the game-ending goal happened. For most of the game it appeared the Panthers would be heading toward another game that would be textbook to how their season had been; lots of shots on goal, with none of them falling in.
Defensively, Eastern did what has come to be expected of them. They held Oral Roberts to seven shots, four on goal and received a four save performance from NCAA saves leader Mike Novotny.
The win gave a huge breath of life to the Panthers hopes of reaching the Summit League tournament as it pushed their overall record to 3-6-5 and 1-2-1 in conference.
For Oral Roberts, the loss moves them to 4-6-1 overall and 1-1 in conference.
JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]