PantherU

One goal is all Milwaukee needed

It was not pretty but the Milwaukee Panthers got the job done. The Panthers returned home after a two game road trip, where they looked to remain undefeated against Western Illinois. The Leathernecks were only 1-4 entering tonight’s contest, but they held their own against the Panthers. This game was closer than expected as Milwaukee continued their dominance at home with a 1-0 victory over Western Illinois to push their record to an impressive 5-0-1.

The Panthers jumped out to an early lead. In the fifth minute Declan Rodriguez scored the eventual game-winning goal on a header, off of a 40-yard free kick from Luke Goodnetter.

“You always want to get off to a good start, it was a nice goal, it was a great ball from Luke Goodnetter, and a fantastic finish from Declan. To be able to start off with a lead, that make a big difference,” said head coach Kris Kelderman.

Starting off quickly with a lead did turn out to make an enormous difference in the game. In the 18th minute, play would be delayed due to weather, and action would not resume for an hour and 36 minutes. Once the game resumed play, you could tell that the long delay affected the players.

“Everyone on the field was coming out a little slower after that delay. We were just sitting in the changing room, watching TV for a little bit,” said Declan Rodriguez. “It definitely changed the dynamics of the game, but once we started getting going again, everything started coming together.”

Everything did come together, but it was not pretty. The field was slick and unpredictable, with players slipping and sliding around. Although the field conditions were tough, the Panthers continued to play their brand of soccer. They dominated possession with 21 shots compared to the Leathernecks 12, and had eight of the 11 shots on goal. The defense had another outstanding performance, with Liam Anderson making three saves to record his third shutout in the last four games.

“Defensively, another shutout and we were very sound. Obviously, a great result at home again,” said Kelderman.

Overall the Panthers did an excellent job winning the game, even though it was not easy due to the weather. Milwaukee continues to do an excellent job on both sides of the ball, while improving game by game.

“We have been focusing on being better each game, and I think we are progressing. I think we are a little more solid defensively, and then we were in the beginning of the season,” said Kelderman. “We are still getting a lot of shots, which is a positive too. So it is a nice balance where I feel we are defensively not giving up goals, and offensively we are creating a lot of opportunities.”

This is the time of the season that Milwaukee needs to be playing its best soccer with their first conference matchup only nine days away at Detroit. The Panthers are and continue to become a dangerous team that no one wants to face, since they are playing so well in all areas of the game. The Milwaukee Panthers are still undefeated through six games this season, and it should be interesting and exciting to see how far they can take it.

Up next the Panthers will hit the road for their final game before conference kicks off, as they take on Western Michigan on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CST.

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