Column: Recent losses don’t shake Panther defense

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The Daily Eastern News

Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News Quinn Rechner boots a long pass upfield, as a defender jumps to try and block it. Eastern lost 2-0 to Milwaukee Tuesday at Lakeside Field.

Blake Faith, Men's Soccer Reporter

The men’s soccer team currently rides a three-game losing streak consisting of two losses with a score of 2-0 and one 5-1 loss.

Now, on paper it suggests that the defense for the Panthers is struggling, but that could not be further from the truth.

The Panthers allowed two goals in their most recent loss, which was at the hand of Milwaukee Tuesday.

The first goal came in the 32nd minute of the game when Josh Kaye crossed the ball in to Evan Conway inside the box who headed the ball into the back of the net.

Freshman defender Quinn Rechner, along with the other defenders, each defended their man tough, but Milwaukee’s attackers placed themselves in a situation to score.

Conway put himself to where Rechner was out of position, and he was able to head the ball down with pace into the back of the net

The second goal came in the 64th minute when redshirt junior goalkeeper Jonathan Burke made a quick save off a shot from Andreas Sorensen took a shot that Kaye rebounded the ball and scored the second goal for Milwaukee.

So from the outside people reading this could think one of two things: The first thing is that Rechner should have went goal side and prevented that player from scoring the ball. The second thing is that Burke should have either caught the ball or a defender should have cleared it.

As someone who played goalkeeper in high school I would say those two things are completely wrong. On the first goal Milwaukee’s offense capitalized on being in the right place at the right time.

The second goal, again, was right place at the right time.

Another aspect is that Burke and the defense did all they could to save the goal. When you are right there, as I have been before, to make a save and then let the rebound go to an opposing player roughly eight times out of 10 that rebound unfortunately goes in the back of the net.

“I think you worded it perfectly; Milwaukee was just in the right spot at the right time on the goals,” Burke said. “Tough one for sure because I felt all of our mentality was better than the NIU game and we were really ready for this game unfortunately we did not get the result we wanted.”

I have been in situations in a game where goals are scored that the team puts their head down and loses that mental edge. For Burke and the Panthers it is the complete opposite. Burke is quick to gather his players and discuss what just happened.

“I feel it is something of importance for our team realizing that if we do get scored on that it happens and now we have to bounce back,” Burke said. “We talk about before the game to expect the worse case scenario. In the huddle we usually share words of encouragement to get the teams mind right to attack after being scored on and not to just die down.”

The men’s soccer team’s record is 4-7-1. Currently the Panthers are fourth in the Summit League standings.

To qualify for the Summit League tournament the Panthers have to finish in the fourth seed or higher.

The Panthers face Omaha in the last home game of the season Saturday.

Burke knows the team cannot let the outside criticism get to the importance this next game and the remainder of the season, especially when the men’s soccer team has a realistic chance to compete in the Summit League tournament come November.

“We have four games till conference play and it is our last stretch and fight to play for that championship in November,” Burke said. “Those three games are in the past and if you truly want to be a great player at this level it is to have a short memory and look towards the next contest. This game Saturday is going to be a blast and I couldn’t be more excited for another conference game.”

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