There are 3 important matches for men’s soccer in the upcoming schedule

Dillan Schorfheide, Sports Editor

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File Photo | The Daily Eastern News
Shady Omar heads the ball to try to complete a pass to teammate Jake Andrews (left) as a defender jumps with him. Eastern lost 2-1 to Valparaiso at Lakeside Field in October 2018.

Not surprisingly, three of the most important matches for the men’s soccer team are conference matchups.

Two of them are home matches, both of which feature two of the biggest threats to the Panthers.

Denver

No surprise here, as the Pioneers were the preseason favorites to win the Summit League again.

Without their star of recent history, Andre Shinyashiki who lead the NCAA in goals scored last year, the Pioneers have struggled so far.

Denver’s record is just 1-4-1, and the Pioneers have only scored three goals in all its matches.

Despite this, they were picked to win the conference again and, despite seemingly losing some  power, every team plays its hardest when conference play comes to grab as many points as possible.

Omaha

The Mavericks have been second fiddle to Denver in recent history, and that means Omaha has been the team who consistently challenged Denver in the conference finals.

That also means Eastern will have to get through Omaha at some point, whether in the regular season, postseason or both.

Omaha is, like Denver, struggling so far this season, posting an 0-4-2 record through Wednesday.

But, if history will say anything about Omaha, it is that the Mavericks do not let a bad record keep them down.

Last season, Omaha started 1-4 before conference play and finished second in the conference.

After losing its conference opener to Denver last season, Omaha went undefeated in the rest of conference play.

Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts did not make the postseason tournament last year, but that should not negate the numbers it put up.

Oral Roberts was 58th out of 205 rankings in team scoring last year, and they have continued their high-powered, offensive ways to this season thus far.

As a team, Oral Roberts is averaging 14.2 shots per game, and the team has scored 2.17 goals per game en route to a 5-1 record thus far.

Oral Roberts was picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll, but early this season, it looks like it could do serious damage in the conference

Eastern’s defense has been tough to score on recently, but if Oral Roberts has a good game, the Panthers will have a tough task ahead of it.

The Panthers open Summit League play Sept. 28 at Denver, and they host Oral Roberts Oct. 5 and host Omaha Oct. 19.

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