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

“I think they’re all very excited and ready to go,” Oakley says ahead of conference tournament game

Eastern is playing in a conference tournament for the first time since 2018. (File)

The Eastern men’s soccer team will be playing in a conference tournament for the first time since 2018 when it was in the Summit League.

“Our biggest objective of the year was to play in November,” Head Coach Josh Oakley said. “We’re doing that, but we’ve talked a lot the last week about upping the ante a little bit, striving for more.

The Panthers, who are the sixth seed, will play the Liberty Flames who are the three seed. When they last played the Flames, they lost 4-0. Three of those four goals were allowed on set pieces.

“I think we’ve got to be very good on set pieces, defensively, and also be good breaking lines and find them in behind,” senior midfielder Felipe Kerr Lourenco said. “Yeah, that’s it, be composed, have the ball, and be good defensively.”

The Panthers will be without three players for the remainder of the season, freshman defender Lance Somerfield (pulled quad), sophomore forward Casey Welage (severe groin strain), and sophomore forward Jude Spallinger (knee).

“That’s kind of where we’re at,” Oakley said. “We’ve got a lot of guys, lot of guys. We recruited a really large group and even with the injuries, despite the injuries and the other adversities that we’ve had we are fighting through, and I’m proud of the way the guys closed out the season.”

The Panthers went 2-1-2 in their last five games with that one loss coming when they rested their starters.

“Four out of the last five, getting results in those games,” Oakley said. “That’s what you have to do. We’re in the playoffs, that’s what it’s all about. Now we go on, play with the team we have, and I think they’re all very excited and ready to go.”

Liberty comes into this game with a record of 1-2-2 in their last five games.

“I’m confident,” freshman forward/midfielder Kyle Ward said. “I think we have a good chance, and underdogs, and I think we have something to prove, and I think they’re a beatable team, so I think we have a good shot.”

During this season Eastern had their best conference record, 3-5-2, since 2000 where they went 6-5-0, but they are looking for more.

“Right now, it feels like we are just so hungry to go and get a little more, whatever that is,” Oakley said. “I think at the end of everything is always a good time to look back and what we have is we have just an end of the second season. We have a new beginning, a beginning of something really kind of special for the guys.”

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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