The 3rd Man In

Game ends in a draw

It was exactly a week ago that the Milwaukee Panthers knocked off nationally ranked Marquette to capture the Milwaukee Cup. Unfortunately the Panthers were unable to carry the momentum over into their game tonight against the Drake Bulldogs as part of the 39th edition of the Panther Invitational. It was a closely contested game the entire night with the final score ending in a 1-1 draw through two overtime periods.

The first half started off well for the Panthers. They did an excellent job controlling the possession of the ball, while being patient for their shots. Laurie Bell put the Panthers on the board with a goal in the 40th minute to give the Panthers the 1-0 lead right before halftime. While the first half was solid, the Black and Gold would fail to score again, while Drake scored its lone goal in the 66th minute.

“I thought we had a fair amount of control after the first half. We had a one-goal lead and we all know that in soccer, one hiccup or one lapse in the back and suddenly the game is tied,” said Milwaukee head coach Kris Kelderman. “It’s not good enough. We have to take advantage of our opportunities better than we did tonight. It’s just being sharper in the final third – that’s the hardest part about soccer, scoring goals. It’s just that final pass, that final shot.”

The Panthers needed to be sharper and take advantage of their opportunities late. While they did lead Drake in shots (18-12), including 4-2 in overtime, they could not find away to finish.

“I am not thrilled about the result and our guys are not either. And I do not expect them to be. I thought the possession for the majority of the game was in our favor and I thought we played pretty well the majority of the time,” said Kris Kelderman. “I am not pleased with how we took our chances. I am not pleased with the number of chances we failed to create in the attacking third. And that is something that we know we need to work on and get better at. We have seven new starters from last year and I did not expect this to happen overnight. Guys are trying to gel and we have areas that need improvement that we are working on.”

While it will just take a matter of time for the team to gel, and live up to its full potential, one guy who the Panthers cannot afford to have slow down is Robbie Boyd. Boyd seemed to be always around the ball when the Panthers were attacking, and finished the game with an assist and four shots on goal.

“Robbie was very busy tonight, his pace is his strength. He is a fast player on the flank and he was very dangerous tonight,” said Kelderman.

Although this was a tough game to swallow for the Panthers, they cannot hang their heads for to long. On Sunday they will play against Bowling Green, as part of the Panther Invitational. It should be another fun and competitive game for the Panthers, but they will need to improve their execution if they want to win.

“We had a lot of chances today. We got the ball out wide a lot, had a lot of crosses. We just have to get a cross the face of the box and finish,” said Robbie Boyd.

This game against Drake is now behind the Panthers, and it is time to look forward to rest of the season. The Panthers are a very talented team, but they still need more time to gel and improve on their execution. While it is easier said then done, the Panthers have proven that they are a dangerous team, and can beat anyone on any given night. Now lets see how the Panthers respond against Bowling Green on Sunday after they faced some adversity tonight. Will they play like they did against Marquette or will they struggle to execute? We will have to see, but my guess is they come out with a chip on their shoulder, and show Bowling Green whose boss.

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