Lara wants to see improved defense in exhibition match

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

For any team, working out any remaining kinks before the regular season is necessary to be completely ready for the competition.

For the men’s soccer team, its exhibition match Tuesday will be the time to fix any problems and get the chemistry needed for the season.

On Tuesday, the Panthers will be at DePaul for a 1 p.m. exhibition match, the last exhibition match before the regular season. In the four matches Eastern has battled against DePaul in, the Panthers hold a 3-1 advantage.

Before his team will travel to DePaul Tuesday, head coach Kiki Lara said there are some things he will be looking for from his team.

The biggest thing Lara said he will be looking for from his team Tuesday is good defensive play that he said the team has prided itself on the last few years. 

“We need to tighten up in the defensive details that help us keep clean sheets,” Lara said. 

Defense is something Lara and some players have stressed already before the first exhibition match last week. Before losing to Wisconsin 2-0 last Tuesday, Lara said he was going to look for defensive toughness and to see if his team could sustain an iron curtain mentality.

Edgar Mesa, a junior defender/midfielder, said the defense played well after the match against Wisconsin, but one thing that could be improved was connecting the ball from the defensive third to the midfielders and forwards.

Christian Sosnowski, a redshirt junior midfielder/forward, said the offense needs to connect better between the midfielders and forwards.

That is the second aspect of his team’s play that Lara said he will be looking for improvement upon on Tuesday. 

The “build up play,” as Lara called it, has to get better, he said, and will get better over time as the team gets more experience playing together. By improving the build up play, getting the ball in the back of the net can be achieved easier.

The third thing Lara will be looking for from his team Tuesday is taking the chances it gets. Against Wisconsin, Eastern registered two shots on goal, but Lara said those chances, along with others, should have resulted in goals.

But more than anything else, the Panthers’ coach wants to see his team play tough defensively.

“Still our defensive grit has to be there for a full match tomorrow,” Lara said. “That is what we are looking for first and foremost.”

So far in its exhibition play, DePaul lost to a Summit League foe of Eastern’s, Western Illinois, 2-1.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]