The 3rd Man In

Panthers top Golden Grizzlies

With the Horizon League tournament almost here, the Milwaukee Panthers continued their conference success against Oakland University. The Panthers (11-2-2, 4-2) recorded a 2-1 victory over the Golden Grizzlies (5-5-5, 3-1-1), to move into second place in the Horizon League standings.

In the 28th minute senior James Ashcroft, started off the scoring for the Panthers, by beating everyone to a back pass to the goalkeeper. He then was able to finish from 15 yards out for his second goal of the season. Ashcroft has become very comfortable on offense over the last couple of games, after beginning the season playing defense.

“Before I came out here, I use to play up top. I know a little bit [about] how to play up there,” said Ashcroft. “Coach spoke to me and I spoke to him and said how about giving me a chance up top. He has played me up there, and hopefully I am trying to repay his faith.”

After the goal, he almost scored less then 10 seconds later as he picked off a pass at midfield on the restart and sent a shot towards the goal. Oakland’s goalie, Sean Lewis, made it interesting, as he had to jump to save the ball from going in. His play tonight and over the last few weeks, has made head coach Kris Kelderman very happy.

“The last few weeks we have inserted James to play up top and he’s done a great job as far as holding up the ball, winning balls in the air, he’s done really well,” said Kelderman.

Only 10 minutes after Ashcroft got the Panthers on the board, Laurie Bell was able to find the back of the net to give the Panthers the 2-0 lead. Bell’s goal was his 10th of the season, which leads the conference, and was set up by passes from Beau Laufer and Kostas Kotselas.

Laufer and Kotselas were two of the four players who came off the bench tonight to give the starters a breather, and they all did an excellent job.

“This time of the year a lot of guys have played a lot of minutes, and we played a tough game in overtime our last match against Wisconsin. There is a little fatigue in the group, that is to be expected,” said Kelderman. “Hats off to the guys who came off the bench, they made us better, they added energy and they did a great job.”

With the way the Panthers were playing, and with only seven minutes left in the first half, it appeared that Milwaukee was going to go into halftime with a comfortable 2-0 lead, but that was not the case. With only four seconds remaining until the 45th minute, Cody Archibald of Oakland was able to volley it from 10 yards out, to make the game 2-1.

“That just was poor management on our part. Just trying to win the ball when you didn’t have too, and we gave something up right before half,” said Kelderman. “That was disappointing, and the guys knew it. That is something you just can’t allow to happen. We came out in the second half, took care of business. Great result.”

Early in the second half Oakland came out strong, and tried to tie the game up numerous times, but was unsuccessful. Milwaukee also had a few chances throughout the second half to add onto their lead, but the score remained 2-1 when the final buzzer sounded.

“We had a lot of chances tonight,” said Ashcroft. “Sometimes you will see some people anxious at times or maybe rushing it. Just need to calm down, take a breath, and hopefully we will convert more of the chances we make.”

Milwaukee played another solid game as they led in shots (18-15) and shots on goal (7-4). Goalie, Liam Anderson also had a nice game as he did a great job stopping Oakland’s aggressive offense, while making three saves.

“It’s a great result. It was a big game for us against a very good undefeated team in our conference,” said Kelderman. “We are itching to get into the conference tournament and see how far we can go and tonight was a great result and a good effort by the guys.”

The conference tournament is almost here, but the Panthers still have two games remaining until then. Their next game will be this Wednesday night as they travel to Illinois to take on Northern Illinois in the clash for the LeWang Trophy.

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