Women’s soccer plays first home game Sunday

Tom O’Connor

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After an inauspicious start of 0-2, Eastern has not been able to strike the right balance. The Panthers underwhelmed Ball State in the opener two weeks ago, when the offense pumped out one shot on goal that afternoon.

Then they went off to Kansas City, only to be limited by the Roos’ defensive plots, which thwarted the Eastern offensive schemes and did not allow a single shot on goal in the first half.

Digressions aside, should the Panthers actualize the aptitude so many Ohio Valley Conference athletic directors and coaches saw in them, they could make it out of this weekend’s matches against Milwaukee and Purdue Fort Wayne with a win or two.

Milwaukee has not betrayed the hype that carried over from their 16-2 campaign a season ago, when they suppressed or, better yet, shattered the spirit of three Horizon League teams in the tournament.

The rewards of an adept and vastly motivated personnel certainly did not hurt.

Almost half of the Horizon League Women’s Soccer All-Tournament team roster consisted of Milwaukee players, most notably senior Kelli Swenson, a two-time defensive player of the year and tournament MVP award-winner. Never before had a player been lauded with defensive player of the year awards in successive seasons. 

Milwaukee stocked up on fresh legs at forward, promoted redshirt sophomore Allie Strottman to the starting goalkeeper slot and, with the roster as currently constructed, were able to avert the pains of a protracted, grueling rebuild.

The additions of freshmen forwards Brooke Parnello and Lesley Kiesling, plus the security supplied by their recently appointed goalie, have coalesced to form a team of few unforced errors.

Case-in-point, the Panthers seem remarkably restrained on both ends of the field thus far, as Milwaukee has been dealt fewer cards and foul calls from officials than any other Horizon League team.

They seized on a rather weak strength of schedule to make it through the first two weeks unscathed, right down to an Eastern Kentucky goal that rendered just the second loss since last September. 

To close the weekend, Eastern will commence upon its first home match of the season against Purdue Fort-Wayne, where the Panthers, strangely enough, stumbled on more barriers than on the road in 2018, going for only one win at their home residence of Lakeside Field.

That does not necessarily bode poorly for the match slated for Sunday.

Fort-Wayne cannot always rely on its goalkeeper, redshirt junior Lorah Pund, who has accrued less saves than almost every other keeper in the Summit League field.

Fort-Wayne was pounded by Wright State in an exhibition match and by Youngstown State, neither of which are exactly powerhouse-quality soccer programs.

 

Tom O’Connor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]