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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

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Oakley hopeful for upcoming season

The Panthers will play their first game of the season on Monday against Governor’s State.  (File)

Head Coach Joshua Oakley is excited about the depth that Eastern men’s soccer team has this year and hopes that it will be able to help them win games this season.

“We’re not the type of group that is going to rely on any one individual to get any type of results,” Oakley said.

Last year Eastern had 25 players on the roster, compared to 37 this year. 12 of those 37 are true freshman and four are incoming transfers.

Three of those new players are goalkeepers, which Oakley said is the position that he wants to start with when rebuilding a program for the future. Having a good defense and goalkeeper is one part of his plan the win games.

Something else Oakley wants to do is have a better offense than teams of the past.

“We’re going to score some goals; we’re going to be different than the most recent Eastern teams that just have a hard time putting numbers up,” Oakley said.

From 2016 to 2021, the team scored three goals against Belmont in 2019 which was the most in a single game in that time period.

Aside from improving the defense and offense the best he can, another goal Oakley and the team has for the year is to play in November.

Eastern is in a new conference this year being in the Ohio Valley Conference instead of the Summit League. One thing this new conference has decided on is to have a six-team playoff instead of playing regular season games in November.

To play in November the men’s team will need to be in the top six out of eight teams which are in the OVC. The winner of the tournament will get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Oakley said conference games are going to be very important this year.  To achieve the team’s goal of playing in November they must play well during these games.

Eastern’s first game this season is a home game against Governor’s State University on Monday, August 28. Governor’s State is an out of division opponent from University Park. They are a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics team and went 9-4-5 in 2022 and 12-4-3 in 2021.

Even though Governor’s State is a NAIA team Oakley said that if someone thinks Eastern soccer is going to have an easy game, they’re crazy.

Oakley served as an assistant coach at Eastern from 2000-2002, and he said when he was here, playing against Bradley University was always a competitive game.

“Bradley always had a top-quality program in the state of Illinois and regardless of where both of our programs sit over the last couple years, it doesn’t matter because that game was always a big game when I was first here on staff and it just remains that way, so it’s always kind of that interstate rivalry.”

He said he is looking forward to the intense game.

“I probably shouldn’t do it, but the Bradley game is always underlined,” said Oakley.

Eastern plays Bradley at home on Sunday, September 3 at Lakeside Field.

Luther Yoder can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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Luther Yoder
Luther Yoder, Assistant Sports Editor
Luther Yoder is a sophomore journalism major. This is his first year at The News.

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