SIUE fell to Eastern Illinois University after another stressful game on Sunday, losing 0-1 to the Panthers. While the Cougars ended the match without a goal, there was no lack of effort on the field that afternoon.
Only two minutes after the first whistle, the Cougars moved quickly to EIU’s goal, taking a corner kick and following shot five minutes afterward. Thirty seconds after another corner kick for SIUE, the weather forced a lightning delay for the better part of an hour.
Once they returned to the field, the Cougars kept the pressure on EIU, getting two shots on goal before the 15-minute mark. After trading the ball back and forth between sides, the Panthers managed two shots before halftime.
Throughout the first half, SIUE maintained control, yet the Cougars knew it wouldn’t be an easy match. Head Coach Derek Burton thought the approach of allowing SIUE control of the ball a majority of the time in the first half was part of the opponent’s strategy.
“[Eastern plays] in a way that’s conservative, in terms of keeping their energy and their legs. They’re a smart team,” Burton said.
Even though their control in the first half was dominant, the Cougars were in for a struggle after the whistle. After switching up both teams during halftime, SIUE started again with two quick shots on goal and a substitution for EIU.
After the 50-minute mark, SIUE started to rack up more shots, with 13 in total for the second half. Sophomore midfielder Angel Ikeda affirmed that the Cougars had control of the midfield, though their offense appeared to be frazzled.
“I think we need to grow as a team at the top of the 18,” Ikeda said, referring to the box that surrounds the goal. “We panic a lot and we aren’t as confident in ourselves to think ‘this is going to go in.’ Most of our players up top are younger, so I think it’s more of a learning experience.”
The second half saw many tense battles for the ball within EIU’s box. The Panthers worked toward SIUE’s half and scored at 71:26 from a stressful battle only feet from the goal post; the goal came from a foot tap and snuck into the net. The later minutes came with even more consecutive saved shots on EIU by the Cougars.
After the game, the Cougars knew what they’d need to work on.
“Definitely shooting. We have to work on our shots and our good opportunities under pressure — really being composed,” freshman forward Megan Keeven said.
EIU proved their ability to connect passes and conserve their strength, ending the game with a win that lifted their season to 4-6-4, while the Cougars’ fell to 5-7 overall.
The Cougars will play Southeast Missouri State University at 1 p.m. Sunday at Korte Stadium.