By Myla Stewart
MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois men’s soccer rounded out their non-conference play this weekend with an official record of 0-4-3.
Last Saturday (Sept. 17), Western was shutout with a 1-0 loss to the Northern Illinois Huskies. Junior-transer Sofian Maghouz led the Leathernecks with five shots on goal, and the team concluded the game with eight total shots. Even with all these shots Western was unable to get one past NIU’s goalkeeper, Martin Sanchez. The goal by NIU’s redshirt-senior Enrique Banuelos in the 49th minute would be the solo goal that allowed the Huskies to hold onto the win.
On Tuesday, Sept. 20, Western’s match against the Northern Kentucky Norse resulted in another tie game for the Leathernecks. WIU graduate student Arian Mehrang came off the bench and was able to put WIU on the board in the 30th minute with a left-footed shot to the far post. Junior defender Luis Rodriguez set up Mehrang on a perfectly paced ball to gain his first assist of the season, and Western would hold onto this lead until the 77th minute. At this point NKU was able to finish a one time shot from just outside the box. After 13 more minutes of a close battle for one more goal, the game finished in a 1-1 draw. Junior goalkeeper Alex Flowers accounted for four saves against NKU. This pushed him to the top of the leaderboard in the Summit League for save percentage (0.756).
Western Illinois will be opening their conference play with a home field advantage against the Omaha Mavericks (3-3-1). In Omaha’s most recent game against the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Tevin Rochester scored the lone goal for Omaha in the 78th minute. UTRGV was able to hold onto their early lead, finishing the game with the final score of 4-1. Omaha is headed to Western’s home grass this weekend to battle for the first win of the conference. This long-time conference rivalry will be quite the way to open Summit play, so expect nothing less than a good game of soccer until the final whistle blows.
With the upcoming match being the first league game for both WIU and Omaha, this game will set the tone for the rest of the season. Looking to turn over a new page, Western is still battling for their first winning result this year. John Mackenzie Alumni Field will host the conference opener at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24.