The 3rd Man In

Panthers fall in first conference match

Fundamental mistakes continue to haunt the Milwaukee Panthers this season. In the Panthers opening Horizon League contest, they fell to the Cleveland State Vikings, 3-1, at Engelmann Stadium on Saturday night, falling behind early after numerous defensive miscues.

Milwaukee (3-5-1, 0-1) didn’t play well in the first half, but came out in the final 45 minutes of play with a lot of energy. However, the two-goal deficit was just too much to overcome.

The scoring began in the 24th minute when Panther goalkeeper Liam Anderson made a save by deflecting the ball away. Defender Richard Johnson headed the ball off the line, where Cleveland State’s Alvaro Pichardo grabbed the rebound, and sent it in the goal to give the Vikings a 1-0 advantage.

Cleveland State extended their lead to 2-0 in the 41st minute. The score remained 2-0 Vikings entering halftime, and the Panthers had some work to do if they wanted to come back in the second half.

Coming out of halftime the Panthers regrouped, and came out with a lot more passion and aggression.

At the 52:51-mark, Laurie Bell stepped up, and got the Panthers on the board. After Luke Goodnetter found Bell waiting in the box, Bell attempted to score before the Vikings goalie was whistled for a foul in the box.

Bell lined up to take the penalty kick, and drilled it right up the middle, giving him his first goal of the season.

Down 2-1 with 37 minutes left, the Panthers now had a chance to tie this contest up. They had some excellent chances, but Cleveland State’s goalkeeper Nick Ciraldo made some incredible saves.

In the 79th minute the Vikings were able to tack on, increasing their lead to 3-1, putting any sort of comeback for the Panthers at a halt.

Ciraldo finished the night making six saves to earn the victory, while Anderson tallied two saves in the loss. The Panthers held a slight advantage in shots, 14-10, while recording four of the six corner kicks.

This game was extremely physical and chippy at times. A total of 36 fouls were called, while six yellow cards and two red cards were handed out between the two teams.

The Panthers had opportunities to score, but defensive mistakes put them down early, and they were just unable to over come the deficit. The defense has been a weak spot for Milwaukee this season, as they continue to underperform. The Panthers need to figure things out quickly. Otherwise it is going to be extremely challenging to win the regular season Horizon League title.

Milwaukee will look to turn things around this week when they take a short road trip north to face instate rival Green Bay for the Chancellor’s Cup on Wednesday evening.

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