The 3rd Man In

Milwaukee looks for a return to glory

Winning the Horizon League Men’s Soccer Championship will not be an easy task this season, with any team capable of beating anyone on a given night. Cleveland State was the preseason favorite to win the competitive Horizon League, but right behind them were the Milwaukee Panthers. The Panthers made a significant jump from seventh in last year’s poll, after recording their first non-losing season in the past seven years.

“It is interesting to get a feel how others perceive our program. By being ranked second in the poll, people sense that we are a program on the rise,” said head coach Kris Kelderman.

The Panthers’ experience is one of the main reasons this team is on the rise with five of their top seven scorers and nine players that started at least 10 games returning from last season. Not only do the Panthers return experience, but they also will have some new faces playing for them to make them even stronger.

“We brought in some strong guys. Some good freshman coming in and we got the three guys who had to sit last fall [after transferring from Green Bay] coming in to make us a lot stronger this season,” said junior midfielder Laurie Bell. “Then it’s a solid group apart from that, we’ve just worked on the things we did well last year and tried to improve on our weaknesses.”

No matter who is on the field this season for the Panthers, offensive productivity will be a major key to the team’s success. Last season the Panthers led the conference in shots with 299, but they were only able to put the ball in the net 23 times.

“Last year we had a lot of shots but no end product. So if we work on that, which we have been, then we should have success,” said senior defender James Ashcroft.

Winning the Horizon League is the main goal for the Panthers; they will have a strong enough team to contend this year led by Bell and Ashcroft, who were named preseason First-Team All-Horizon League.

“I want to win the Horizon League. I think we have the players to do it,” said Bell.

The Milwaukee Panthers will be a tough team to beat this season, with key players returning from a season ago. They are going to be a defensively sound team again this season and their offensive productivity will be improved. While the Horizon League will be as tough as it has ever been, the Panthers are capable of beating anyone. The Milwaukee Panthers Men’s Soccer team is very talented, led by Laurie Bell and James Ashcroft, and do not be surprised if they are sitting atop the conference standings at the end of the season.

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