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

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

The Daily Eastern News

Eastern hopes to hold on to playoff spot going into final two games

The Panthers have the tiebreaker over Chicago State for sixth place in the conference going into their last two games. (File)

The Panthers are in the middle of a close race to make the Ohio Valley Conference championship tournament.

Eastern is sixth out of eight in the OVC with eight points but is tied with Chicago State. The top six in the conference make the tournament. The reason Eastern owns the tiebreaker over Chicago State is because of the OVC’s tiebreaker rules.

The first and second parts of the tiebreaker rules do not apply to Eastern and Chicago State because they tied each other the one time they played meaning that head-to-head competition and goals scored against each other do not matter.

The third part of the OVC’s tiebreaker rule is “Average points per match earned of tied teams versus other league teams, in rank order beginning at the highest point in the standings (seed-order) that does not involve a tied team. Process continues (if necessary) through rank order, skipping any teams involved in a tie,” according to the OVC website.

SIUE is first in the conference and Eastern and Chicago State have both lost in their game against them meaning that the points per game for both teams against SIUE is zero. The team that is second in the conference is Lindenwood and the Panthers have beaten Lindenwood once and tied them once this season which means that their points per game against Lindenwood is two. Chicago State, however, lost to Lindenwood the one time they played meaning that its points per game against Lindenwood is zero.

“We got a lot of energy, a lot of guys that are coming in, hard tackles,” Panthers’ junior midfielder Jared Cornejo said. “I think we’re looking forward to these next few games. It’s definitely a good position to be in and I think we’re rising to the challenge for sure.”

The Panthers’ next game is against Southern Indiana on Thursday at Lakeside Field at 3:30 p.m. Eastern last played Southern Indiana on Oct. 19 and won 2-0.

Obviously, it’s a must-win game,” Head Coach Josh Oakley said. “Every team has their struggles right now you know you’ve got suspensions, you’ve got yellow cards, you’ve got injuries. Everybody’s dealing with the same thing. I think our guys are equipped to deal with it.

Eastern will be without senior midfielder Felipe Kerr Lourenco in this game because he got a red card in their last match and will not be able to play in this one.

Junior goalkeeper Chad Smith earned OVC goalkeeper of the week for his play against Southern Indiana and Lindenwood, and against Southern Indiana he got his third shutout of the season.

“Feeling really positive going into the week,” Smith said. “A lot of good results past three games, scored some goals, kept some clean sheets. One goal against in three games, we’re doing really well so far looking good going into USI for the second time.”

In the Panthers’ last three games they have scored three goals and have only allowed one while going 1-0-2 in those games. That is the longest span of games Eastern has gone without a loss since the 2019 season where they went 2-0-1 during a three-game span.

“I think the team is ready,” senior forward Julian Smith said. “I think we’ve faced a lot of challenges here with losses and ties but with a couple wins we just got I think the locker room atmosphere is high, so I think we’re ready.”

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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