Men’s soccer set to host Western Illinois Saturday

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

The men’s soccer team faces its second conference opponent, Western Illinois, Saturday after suffering what was likely the Panthers’ worst loss this season.

Eastern and Western are the two most similar teams in the Summit League right now, both sitting at the lower end of the conference with the same 2-6-3 record.

On top of that, both teams are coming into the weekend with offenses that have performed less-than-desirably recently, or in Western’s case, for most of the season.

Eastern averaged ten shots per game during the first six matches of the season, but in the last five matches, the Panthers have averaged 6.4 shots.

To be fair, the Panthers have averaged eight shots per match in the last three matches, but only two goals to show for in the three.

What has hindered the Panthers even more so recently has been giving up goals. 

Eastern gave up only four goals through the first six matches of the season, but the Panthers’ opponents have scored 10 goals in the last five matches, which is too high for a team not scoring enough to counteract it.

In Eastern’s last match, a 3-0 loss to Northern Kentucky, the Norse had 17 total shots, and eight of them on goal. The three goals is tied for the most Eastern has given up in a single match this season.

Even though the Panthers have given up a lot of goals lately, the bright spot for the defense is that it has held the nation’s two leading scorers scoreless in its last two matches.

But with facing Western Saturday, Eastern has a chance to have a better match offensively and defensively to get back on track for the rest of the season. 

The Leathernecks have been the worst team in the Summit League offensively and second-worst defensively.

Western only has six goals scored on the season, which is only one less than Eastern, who has the second-fewest goals in the conference.

The Leathernecks’ leading scorer only has two goals so far this season, and only five Western players have scored so far this year. On top of that, as a team, Western only has one assist.

Western has also given up 17 goals this season to opponents, which is four less than Fort Wayne, who has given up the most in the conference. Eastern is just ahead of Western in the goals given up category, with 14 goals scored against the Panthers.

Western is also giving up 11.2 shots per game to opponents this season and 1.55 goals per game.

Eastern will host Western at noon on Saturday, the second of the Panthers’ three home conference matches this season.

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