Column: Men’s soccer team needs scoring down stretch


Karina Delgado

Eastern freshman Nate Francke dribbles a ball in the Panthers’ 1-0 double-overtime win over Western Illinois on Oct. 6. Eastern is 3-7-3 this season.

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

Since the beginning of the men’s soccer season, the thing I have wanted to see from the Panthers is a productive offense.

I wanted to see the Panthers be able to score on a consistent basis, and multiple times in a match on multiple occasions.                    

At the beginning of the season, Eastern had a good offense going, averaging 10 shots per match and scoring .83 goals per match.

Through the first six matches this season, the Panthers had scored five goals, which was already half of last season’s total. Before the start of the season, head coach Kiki Lara said he wanted the offense to more productive this year.

And through the first half of the season, the team looked as though it was going to have a better-scoring year than last.

But in middle of the season, Eastern’s offense has slowed down.

In three straight losses against Wright State, Northern Illinois and Belmont, Eastern only had five shots (two on goal), three shots (none on goal) and eight shots (two on goal).

In that same stretch, the Panthers only got two goals, both coming against Belmont.

For the season as a whole, Eastern is now averaging 8.6 shots per game, and the Panthers’ shot on goal percentage is down to .357.

With the rest of the season coming into focus, I want to see the team get back to its early season offensive form. Only four teams make the postseason tournament for the Summit League, and the Panthers are sitting in third right now.

Denver will make the tournament, that is undoubtedly a guarantee. Omaha sits in second and also shows no signs of slowing down.

Fort Wayne has three conference points, only one less point than Eastern. Oral Roberts and Western are in last place with one point each, but all three teams have enough games left to get more points than Eastern and qualify for the tournament, if Eastern does not do well enough in the last three conference matches.

Eastern’s defense has not been at its best in the middle of the season, giving up 10 goals in five matches, but defensive play and grit is what the team prides itself on, so I am not concerned that the defense will peter out.

Offensively, what the Panthers need to do is get better chances to score, and that can start with channel play.

Channel play, as Lara has said before, is finding space to play the ball and working around that space then: finding channels to play the ball to.

Eastern had some good moments of doing that in its last match against Valparaiso on Oct. 10: Luke Kurili had a goal and another chance to score with good passes through channels, and other players had some chances as well.

But finding the channels has been a constant stressing point for Lara during the recent matches, as he has told his players multiple times to look for the channels during the games.

This is not to say that the offense is bad.

Christian Sosnowski was pegged by Lara as a key player at the beginning of the season, and he leads Eastern with three goals this year. His latest goal was a double overtime winner against conference-opponent Western.

Eastern has also had seven different players score, and the Panthers still have four matches to score more than they did last season.

But getting more chances and taking advantage of them are going to be important for Eastern in this final stretch. The resilient Oral Roberts and Fort Wayne are still ahead, as well as the tough Omaha team.

Scoring goals will be the difference maker for Eastern, as the defense will be able to hold other teams scoreless, or to a single goal. So with three conference matches ahead, finding the back of the net will be more important each match Eastern plays.

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