Column: Panthers need to be careful following Omaha

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The Daily Eastern News

Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News Quinn Rechner goes up for a head ball against an attacker, banging bodies with the attacker. Eastern tied Omaha 0-0 in double overtime Oct. 19 at Lakeside Field.

Dillan Schorfheide, Sports Editor

As expected with any conference match, much less any match in general, the Eastern men’s soccer team got chippy with Omaha in its Summit League matchup Oct. 19.

Four Eastern players walked off Lakeside Field after the 0-0 draw with yellow cards, and two Omaha players received a yellow card.

The pushing and jawing between the teams led the main referee to twice, in the second half and overtime periods, give an out-loud warning to both teams.

While the match’s result gave Eastern a conference point against a good conference foe, the yellow cards the Panthers may dictate how they play going forward.

The constant jawing and pushing arguably began in the fifth minute, when Omaha received a penalty kick. The Mavericks got the kick awarded after an Eastern player blatantly pushed an Omaha attacker in the penalty box.

It is not clear who exactly pushed the Omaha player, but Edgar Mesa was given a yellow card.

The other Eastern players who received a yellow card were Maxwell Allen, Shady Omar and Davi Girardi.

More than six yellow cards realistically could have been given out, and some players from both teams were possibly eligible for a red card; both teams voided playing down a man, though.

Girardi was part of some shoving in the match and Omar spit directly at an Omaha player who was getting ready to throw the ball in, but both sides were guilty for spewing out curse words and for blatantly fouling each other.

The concern about a player getting a red card is not only for the team being a player down for the current match, but for that specific player then missing the team’s next match.

In Eastern’s case, while no one was given a red card against Omaha, four of their players now cannot afford to get another yellow card in the Panthers’ next match against Western Illinois Saturday.

Out of the six teams in the Summit League, only four make the conference tournament. Eastern owns sole possession of fourth place, but each team has two conference matches left.

Denver, who is in fifth place, and Fort Wayne, who is in last place, can surpass Eastern in the standings with a win and an Eastern loss this weekend (Eastern has two conference points, Denver has one and Fort Wayne has none).

That means the Panthers already have the task of protecting their spot in the standings, but what makes that challenge more stressful is the fact that their last two conference matches are both on the road, against Western and Fort Wayne.

Considering the circumstances, the Panthers will need some of their best performances coming up and having their best players available will be a plus.

If any of the four Eastern players with a yellow card from the previous match were to get another one against Western, they would miss the match against Fort Wayne.

That is a concerning thought because depending on how the standings have played out by the time Eastern and Fort Wayne meet Nov. 2, both teams may be playing for a coveted playoff spot.

Girardi and Allen have both scored a goal for Eastern this season, but Omar is the team’s leading scorer with three goals and is a focal point of the offense and Mesa is the anchor for the defensive line.

Losing Omar or Mesa for a possible fate-deciding match is not a thought the team would want to ponder about.

Any team, let alone Eastern, getting four yellow cards in one match is not very likely, but if the postseason hangs in the balance at the time of the Fort Wayne match, Eastern, and more specifically the four Panthers with yellow cards, will have to avoid serious clashing against Western Saturday.

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