Men’s soccer loses first two matches to start the season

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File Photo | The Daily Eastern News Shady Omar tries to retrieve the ball out of midair as a defender grabs him during the Eastern men’s soccer team’s 2-1 loss to Valparaiso in October 2018 at Lakeside Field.

Blake Faith, Men's Soccer Reporter

The men’s soccer team went 0-2 this weekend in its first two games of the season, losing the season-opener 3-1 to Evansville and losing 3-0 to Xavier Monday.

Against Evansville Aug. 30, Eastern started the game down 1-0 before halftime. In the last three minutes of the first half, goalkeeper Jonathan Burke made a diving save that ended up on Sportscenter’s top 10 plays of the day Saturday.

Burke did not expect to make ESPN, but it definitely is something he will remember for the rest of his life.

“When I woke up a lot of my friends and family had been texting me, so I woke up to a lot of texts and calls,” Burke said. “It is nice to see that EIU logo on ESPN giving our great school some recognition.”

In the second half, Evansville took a 2-0 lead when J. Lacey-Stafford stepped up and scored a penalty kick, just squeezing the ball under Burke’s outstretched hands.

The Panthers would answer in the 76th minute, when senior Alex Casteneda scored a breakaway goal after two Evansville defenders committed a lazy pass that led to a steal. His goal brought the Panthers to within one goal.

Eastern would get another chance with less than a minute left, when the Panthers got a corner kick where Burke was needed to come up to help. Evansville won the ball off the corner and had an easy break without Burke in net to score its third goal.

Burke finished with four saves against Evansville. The Panther offense combined for six shots, but only two were on goal

“I think the Evansville game wasn’t as bad as the score line showed,” Burke said. “There were truly some great moments in that game with the defense and its connection with the rest of the team.”

Going into Monday’s game, Xavier goalkeeper Matthew Rosenburg was named the Big East Goalkeeper of the Week.

Rosenburg helped the Musketeers get a 2-0 win against Akron, who was ranked No. 3 in the NCAA preseason rankings.

The Panthers did not allow a goal until the 40th minute when Xu Boe-Tangen touched a goal past Burke on a one-on-one opportunity. Burke had two saves in the first half.

Eastern’s offense had zero shots in the first half compared to Xavier’s six.

In the second half Eastern allowed five corners and two shots within the first five minutes of the half. Eastern recorded two shots in the second half but only one on goal.

Xavier finished the game with 18 shots, six of them on goal. In the second half Xavier scored two goals to make the final score 3-0.

In both games Evansville and Xavier controlled the ball more than Eastern did.

Because both teams held the ball so much Eastern’s defense faced constant pressure.

Burke finished the game with three saves against Xavier. In both games Edgar Mesa was the only veteran player for the defense. Freshmen Delphy Sabu and Quinn Rechner both received their first two starts to begin the season with Mesa.

“We know Edgar is one of the best in the country at his position, but it was nice to see what the new guys did,” Burke said after the Evansville loss. “Quinn and Delph showed that they can play at this level and I am excited to see what big things they will do this year.”

The men’s soccer team will play next against Ohio State Sunday at 4 p.m.

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