It took 11 games, but the Eastern men’s soccer team earned its first win of the season against Western Illinois in the season finale Saturday at home.
The Panthers got goals from sophomore forward Maxwell Allen and redshirt-junior forward Reed Axthelm and beat the Leathernecks 2-1.
It was also the first win at Eastern for head coach Ronnie Bouemboue.
The match was scoreless through the first half, with both the Panthers and Leathernecks managing four shots in the first 45 minutes. All four shots for Western Illinois in the half were on goal, and were saved by Eastern goalkeeper Jonathan Burke.
Once the second half started, the match would not be scoreless for long.
Less than a minute into the second half, freshman midfielder Julian Smith set up Allen for the goal. It was Allen’s second goal of the season.
Just over four minutes later, Smith picked up another assist on Axthelm’s goal, which was his team-leading third goal of the season.
Burke was very active in the second half, making seven saves as the Leathernecks got off 14 shots. He nearly earned his first shutout of the season, but Western midfielder Daisuke Otsuka got one behind him in the final minute of regulation.
Burke’s 11 saves set a new season high for him.
The season is now over for the Panthers, and with a 1-7-2 conference record, they finished in last place in the Summit League for the first time since 2015.
Despite the last place finish, Eastern had a few individual performers that played well.
Axthelm’s three goals had him tied for seventh in the conference in goals this season, and his 11 points rank 10th in the Summit League.
Burke led the conference in saves with 69 while ranking third with a .802 save percentage.
Despite this, he allowed the second-most goals in the Summit League as a result of have faced more shots that the rest of the goalkeepers in the conference.
As a team, the Panthers allowed 21 goals, the second-most in the Summit League. The only team that allowed more was Western Illinois with 25, but the Leathernecks played four more games than the Panthers did.
Eastern’s average of 1.91 goals allowed per game was the highest in the conference.
The Panthers were slightly more effective than the Leathernecks offensively. Both teams scored 10 goals on the season, so of course Eastern’s average of .91 goals per game was higher, putting them second-to-last in the conference in that category.
The 43 corners attempted by the Panthers was the lowest mark in the Summit League.
Looking ahead to next season, the roster should be similar. There are three seniors and a graduate player on the roster this season, and every other can potentially return for the Panthers in the fall.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]