The 3rd Man In

Milwaukee set for conference tournament match

It has been a challenging season for the Milwaukee Panthers men’s soccer team to say the least. After being selected to win the regular season Horizon League title in the preseason, the Panthers struggled all year to play consistently while having to deal with numerous injuries along the way.

But, now the regular season has come to a close, and it is time for the Panthers to worry about one thing – winning the Horizon League Tournament. Each year head coach Kris Kelderman and his players state that their No. 1 goal is to win the conference tournament to clinch an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. And now they will have that opportunity.

After beating the Detroit Titans in their regular season finale last Friday, the Panthers will be the sixth seed in the conference tourney, and will head to Dayton, Ohio to face the third seeded Wright State Raiders on Monday evening.

In the regular season, the Panthers fell to the Raiders 3-0 on the road, as they allowed all three goals within the first 38 minutes of play.

However, this first round tournament matchup will be a different situation. Unlike when these two teams met in the regular season, the Panthers are now starting to heat up, playing some of their best soccer of the season.

They also will want to prove that they are the best team in the Horizon League despite their struggles this season.

It will not be easy, however, as they will have a challenging matchup right out of the gate against the Raiders. The Raiders’ offensive attack is averaging nearly two goals a game, while defensively only allowing 1.50 goals per contest to their opponents.

Wright State has had an extremely balanced offense, with 13 different players tallying at least a goal in the regular season. Forward Peguy Ngatcha leads the Raiders with seven goals, but forward Eric Lynch has been their main offensive threat.

Lynch registered five goals and 12 assists for a team-high 22 points, while also leading the Raiders with 47 shots in the regular season.

Not only will the Panther defense have their hands full with the balanced and talented Raider offense, but Milwaukee’s offense will also have their own challenges against Wright State’s defense.

Tyler Blackmer will receive the start in goal against the Panthers. He played in all but two of the Raiders’ games, recording a 1.14 goals against average, while logging six saves on the year.

This is going to be an extremely competitive match unlike their meeting in the regular season, with both teams wanting to extend their season for at least another day. If Milwaukee is able to play the way they did against Detroit, it will be hard for any team to stop them. The Panthers will need to take advantage of their opportunities offensively, while limiting the shots on goal by the explosive Raider offense, if they want to move on in the tournament.

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