Defense will bounce back, improve for men’s soccer

Blake Faith, Men's Soccer Reporter

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File Photo | The Daily Eastern News
Kris Luke tries to chip the goalkeeper in a match against Evansville in August 2018 at Lakeside Field. Eastern and Evansville tied 1-1 in a double-overtime match.

The men’s soccer team went 0-2 over the weekend and allowed six goals in the process.

There were three goals in each game, but for those who know the program the defense will regroup and improve from these goals.

When the Panthers played Xavier the Panthers allowed only one goal in the first half until the 40th minute. Xavier’s Xu Boe-Tangen touched a goal past goalkeeper Jonathan Burke on a one-on-one opportunity right inside the goal box.

In the second half, the Panthers allowed two goals, while handling 18 shots from Xavier through the whole game.

“The goals scored in the Xavier game and Evansville game are goals that we as a team need to do better on not allowing,” Burke said.  “The goals are goals, simple as that, but are ones we can get better and learn from.”

Xavier defeated No. 3 Akron the game prior to its game against Eastern. Despite the Panthers losing 3-0 the team can takeaway positives from their play.

“Xavier, being one of the top teams in the country, I thought we played very well our first half,” Burke said. “If we didn’t get scored on with 4 minutes left in the first half, it would have been a different game.”

Freshmen Delphy Sabu and Quinn Rechner both received their first two starts of their collegiate careers on the defensive line. In both games they were tested and now have two games of experience under their belt.

“Delph and Quinn are good assets to our team but definitely have room to grow,” Burke said. “This is normal being that it is their first year.”

In both games the Panthers were beaten by the other team when it came to time of possession. That lack of possession led to 11 shots from Evansville and Xavier’s 18.

There are a couple positives to those shots being fired away at Eastern.

One plus is it builds experience for Sabu and Rechner and will help the two get familiar with college soccer early.

Another positive is that in the first two games, Burke has stepped up when needed.

Against Evansville Burke finished with four saves including a save that ended up on Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Day for Saturday, in the seventh spot.

No soccer team ever wants to give up three goals in each of its first two games of the season. The Panthers will move on from it and it is better to have this happen earlier in the season, rather than later.

“The team mindset for the game coming up on Sunday is hopeful and ready to get back at it,” Burke said. “(Tuesday) was our team day off and I know a bunch of guys on their own were getting extra work in by themselves in preparation for this weekend.”

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]