SIUE men’s soccer continues to struggle after another loss to the University of Illinois-Chicago Saturday night at Korte Stadium. It was the team’s third loss in a row and fifth loss in the last six games, making their overall record 4-5.
Head Coach Kevin Kalish said he did not like the overall result of the game, but saw some promising things from his team.
“Even though the results aren’t there to show for it, I feel like we are moving closer to where we need to be as we prepare for conference play,” Kalish said. “We are all extremely disappointed with the result and we have a little bit of a mental hurdle at the moment, but if you really analyze it from a soccer standpoint, our attacking side was decent, but you have to win the moments.”
UIC (6-2 overall) scored the only goal of the game in the first five minutes. A UIC player laid the ball off to Bob Novak, a UIC forward, who bent a shot from 20 yards out around the outstretched arms of senior goalkeeper John Berner. Kalish said the early goal for UIC really affected his team’s confidence.
“In some ways, we gave the game away in the first three minutes by giving away a goal early,” Kalish said. “At that point, you are chasing the game and trying to find the goal. In some ways, it dented our belief, and that lack of belief is sometimes the difference between scoring goals and not scoring goals.”
After giving up the early goal, the Cougars controlled much of the possession for the game. One of the team’s best chances of the first half came when junior forward Christian Volesky slid a pass into the 12-yard box to freshman forward Jason Hackett. Hackett went one-on-one with the UIC goalkeeper, but could not score as the goalkeeper made a sliding stop to clear the ball.
The Cougars had another opportunity to score less than 10 minutes later, when Volesky went up against the UIC goalkeeper at the edge of the box. Volesky barely got past the goalkeeper, but could not get enough power on his shot, and a UIC defender slid in to prevent the Cougars from scoring.
In the second half, the Cougars had an early opportunity to score when Volesky got a header inside the six-yard box, but the UIC goalkeeper made another save to keep the game at 1-0.
The Cougars outshot UIC 12-3, including a second half where they did not allow UIC to shoot at all. Volesky lead the team in shots with three, but Hackett lead the team in shots on target with two.
Kalish said the team is excited to start conference play, where it can really start to reach its goals.
“It’s a new season for us,” Kalish said. “The one good thing about conference play is that it is a clean slate and from this point forward, reaching the NCAA tournament and winning the conference championship is our goal and it will all depend on conference games.”
Kalish said he believes his team is good enough to reach its goal.
“We have enough talent to [win the conference]. I think we need to catch a break or two,” Kalish said. “Once we can find a goal, we can get the monkey off of our back, and I think we will settle in and be just fine. We just need to find that one moment where we need someone to step up and finish the chance. I think you’ll see the confidence grow from there.”
The Cougars start Missouri Valley Conference play at 7 p.m. Saturday against Central Arkansas.