Column: Offense is necessity for men’s soccer team next year


Dillan Schorfheide

Matheus Santos winds up for a shot during Eastern’s 1-0 loss to Green Bay at Lakeside Field on Sept. 2.

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

The men’s soccer team’s season was a rollercoaster that kept teasing a slow, continuing rise, but always delivered a steep drop at the last second.

Scoring more goals was a priority at the beginning of the season, and while it did improve, it left room for improvement that, in my opinion, is needed for the team’s future.

Defensively, there were really no concerns, as there were plenty of players to step up if needed, and the defenders did really well.

Stepping up as goalkeeper, Jonathan Burke did well and posted a 1.21 goals against average, had four shutouts and a 75 save percentage.

But Eastern’s shutouts defensively cannot make up for the shutouts the offense was given by opponents’ back lines, which totaled nine.

But therein lies the enigma that was the Panther offense.

Last season, Eastern scored 10 goals in the entire season. This year, with a bit of a buffed-up attack, the team scored 12 goals.

But even though the goal total was improved, getting chances to score is still something that left a little to be desired at the end of the season.

To put it in perspective, Eastern was averaging 10 shots per game through the first six matches of the year. That average was steps above last year’s average at the end of the season, which was 7.7.

And Eastern still finished with a better average this year, with 8.7 shots per game, but even then, getting close to the goal and getting a high number of shots was a challenge at times for Eastern later in the season.

Eastern only allowed 1.3 goals per game to opponents, which is not a bad number, but when the offense only scores almost half of that (.71), the issue is clear.

Cincinatti, whom Eastern defeated in the season opener 2-0, is a perfect example of how an offense is supposed to complement a hard-working and successful defense.

The Eastern defense took a barrage from the Bearcats in the second half and only gave Cincinatti one good chance to score, which was a penalty kick that Burke stopped. 

But every few minutes or possessions, Eastern’s offense formulated a counterattack that almost scored a couple times and gave the defense needed breaks.

Having an effective counterattack offense can be deadly and important, as counterattacks are a quick way to kill a team’s momentum and take the lead. 

But what Eastern needs next year is an offensive style that just attacks. Full-force runs straight at and through the defense.

One reason Denver was so successful is because Shinyashiki and his supporting cast were fast and ran right at you, making runs and weaving through the defense.

During a lot of matches, Eastern would get the ball in a position to make a cross into the box from the wings, but would pass up on it and play the ball back to the defense and kill its own momentum.

Crossing the ball into a crowded defense is not very effective to score, but it causes chaos and the ball to bounce around, which will make the defense more alert and make them work more.

On top of that, Eastern needs to improve what head coach Kiki Lara was stressing late in the season, which is channel play, or playing the ball into space and in gaps in the defense.

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