Men’s soccer getting ready for the regular season after final exhibition match

Blake Faith, Men's Soccer Reporter

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File Photo | The Daily Eastern News
Zabdiel Justiniano makes a pass while defender approaches in a 2-0 loss against Northern Illinois at Lakeside field.

Although the Eastern men’s soccer team went 1-1 in exhibition play, including a 3-0 loss to St. Louis University Monday, the team is still planning to grow offensively.

In Eastern’s first game of exhibition play, sophomore Chad Hamler scored the first goal of this season in a 1-0 win against Valparaiso.

While senior Christian Sosnowski did not score in exhibition play he played in three different positions. Sosnowski played on the wing, wing back and as a center midfielder.

Lara described Sosnowski as one of the offensive catalysts before the season started, and his flexibility to play multiple positions in the offense is something they both believe help the team succeed on offense.

“Preseason was a good lesson on exactly what we need to work on offensively to score goals in regular season and in conference play,” Sosnowski said. “I believe I am good at linking the play to get to the offensive third and create dangerous chances close to goal.”

Exhibition play saw different personnel on the defensive side of the ball. Frank DeBry, Quinn Rechner and William Hogne received their first starts in exhibition play along senior Edgar Mesa for Eastern’s defenders.

For the new players these minutes were used to get them ready for their first year and integrate them into Eastern’s defense.

“We as leaders of the team all need to step up and lead the team especially the newcomers to get on the same page and help adjust quickly to the Division I game speed,” Sosnowski said. “We have the most talent that I have seen over the past four years that I have been here, but we need to help the newcomers adjust as soon as possible and get on the same page with the returning core.”

Eastern is predicted to finish sixth in the Summit League in the coaches poll, which released Monday.

Denver and Omaha are predicted to finish first and second from the poll’s results. Both teams are the only teams to win the conference since 2013 with Denver as the reigning champions.

Eastern did OK against Denver and Omaha last season.

Eastern hosted Denver when Denver was No. 4 in the nation and drew 0-0, aggravating Denver’s star player Andre Shinyashiki by not letting him get good chances for open shots on goal.

Against Omaha, however, the Panthers lost 1-0.

For Mesa, there are expectations for him to succeed since he was named an OVC player to watch by the conference’s coaches.

Last year Mesa was a member of the First Team All-Summit League and helped Eastern shutout Denver and Western Illinois in back-to-back matches.

The men’s soccer team will have nine days to prepare for the first game of the 2019 season.

The Panthers play Evansville Aug. 30th.

Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]