Men’s soccer coach excited to turn program around


Ashanti Thomas | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern midfielder Munir Sherali keeps the ball away from an opponent in a match against Purdue Fort Wayne on Sept. 3 at Lakeside Field. Eastern lost the match 1-0.

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

The new men’s soccer coach, Josh Oakley, is happy he has returned to Eastern and has hopes to make the program what it once was.

Oakley, a Mattoon native, is excited to be home and to bring his experiences of coaching at different levels, his most recent being in the Midwest Premier League, to EIU.

He said while it was unfortunate he did not get to have the spring to work with the team, he is treating the non-conference games as the spring.

He has brought new tactics for the team to try out and will do what he can to make them better. 

“[I’m excited to be] working with all the guys and having them be hopefully the first group that begins to kind of put their stamp on turning the program around, turning it into a place that it once was. And that’s no easy task,” Oakley said.

Oakley said that he is pleased with the team that he has inherited.

“The team that I inherited has a great attitude. They’re there for each other and they’re just a really good group of guys,” Oakley said. “Not to mention very, very strong academics.

The Panthers are five games deep into their regular season and are currently 1-2-1.

They began their season at Green Bay, where they lost 2-1. They then traveled to Cincinnati where they tied 1-1 with Xavier. They went to IUPUI where they lost 1-5. They picked up their first win last Sunday at Purdue Fort Wayne as they beat the Mastodons 1-0.  

The Panthers will be on the road a lot this season as they will travel to Texas, Nebraska, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, Ohio, and Minnesota.

They have already been to Northern Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana so far. Away games always add a little bit of a challenge, but EIU is ready for it, Oakley said.

The games came pretty hot and heavy. Unfortunately, we travel a lot this year. We don’t play at home until October. So, we’ve got that, that pieces into it as well,” Oakley said. “And it makes it a difficult grind.” 

Oakley named 5th year midfielder Chad Hamler as the captain and senior forward Max Allen as the second captain. He is elated to have them as leaders and work with them and the team to make EIU men’s soccer a winning team again. 

“We’ve got a lot of work to do on the field and we’re doing it daily and going through it together,” Oakley said. 

The Panthers continue their travel as they head to Dayton next Tuesday, Sept. 13, and Texas on Sept. 17 before they begin Summit League play on Sept. 24 at St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minn.  

Kate Stevens can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]