Column: Men’s soccer team’s offense took a good step Tuesday


The Daily Eastern News

Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News Davi Girardi heads a cross toward Belmont’s goal as a defender jumps with him. Girardi scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give Eastern a 3-2 win over Belmont Tuesday at Lakeside Field.

Dillan Schorfheide, Sports Editor

The way the Eastern men’s soccer team performed in the second half, and overtime, of Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Belmont is the way it needs to play every game.

Before the season, the team stressed getting more numbers beyond the ball and involved in the offensive attack, and the first half looked much like last year’s team, which played slower and did not pose a consistent scoring threat.

Once the Panthers started the second half, it looked like new life had entered them and they played noticeably better.

The Panthers started making quicker passes and getting to spots faster, and they started being more physical against Belmont, who bullied Eastern around in the first half.

Everything Eastern did held more aggressiveness behind it and more urgency to score.

One big thing the team was able to do, against a physical and big Belmont team, was win head balls.

Winning balls out of the air is a staple of the Panthers under head coach Kiki Lara, and Tuesday was a reinforcement of that.

Eastern’s opening goal, courtesy of defender and team captain Edgar Mesa, was off a corner kick that Mesa headed in on the back side of the goal.

Shady Omar, who scored Eastern’s second goal, headed a throw in on target, but, much to his frustration, right at the goalkeeper’s awaiting hands.

The other most important thing Eastern did Tuesday was play the ball and move with pace.

Eastern, typically, uses a very slow, methodical system to move the ball, where advancing the ball forward comes after a minute of possessing the ball on the defensive line.

The pace at which the team played was quicker than recent memory serves, and it bade well for Eastern.

Also, in overtime, Cole Harkrader’s pass to Christian Sosnowski, who assisted Davi Girardi in the game-winning goal, was a significant one for the growth of the team.

Harkrader had the ball at midfield, and instead of trying to continue to the same side of the field, like Eastern typically does, he saw Sosnowski open on the opposite side of the field and played a long pass to him beautifully that set up Sosnowski to assist Girardi.

To quibble briefly, the first half was very slow for the Panthers and showed a main issue the team’s offense suffered from in the past.

The defense possesses the ball a lot for Eastern, mainly switching the ball from side-to-side of the field amongst itself to look for an opportunity.

They have not been able to possess the ball from the defense up to the attackers too well, and this issue persisted in the first half.

The times Eastern did have scoring chances came from counterattacks or long passes that turned out to work.

Even in the attacking third, and in and around the penalty box, Eastern never really held possession well or found scoring channels within the defense.

But, as the game went along Tuesday, Eastern did these things better bit by bit. They could still be improved upon, but it was a step toward the right direction.

For reference, Eastern’s offense is markedly better this year.

In total, last season, Eastern scored just 12 goals; in seven matches this season, the Panthers scored nine.

Also, the last time Eastern scored three goals in a match was Aug. 17, 2016, in an exhibition match against Drake (a 4-2 Eastern win).


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