PantherU

Panthers dominate on Senior Night

Could anyone have asked for a better night? The Milwaukee Panthers (13-2-2, 5-2) men’s soccer team celebrated Senior Night in their final regular season home game, and gave their seniors a perfect send off, knocking off Cleveland State (7-12, 3-4) 5-0.

Before tonight’s contest seniors James Ashcroft, Aaron Cranfill, Andrew Stone, Robbie Boyd, Austin Toth, Kevin Ferron, Riley Weiner, and Lucas Davey were honored.

With this win the Milwaukee Panthers were able to secure the second seed along with a first round bye in the Horizon League Tournament, which will be taking place at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

“It’s an exciting night,” said head coach Kris Kelderman. “We wanted to win this for a couple of reasons. One is that it was Senior Night. We had a good performance from those guys and we were able to get everybody on the field and that is exciting. On top of that we played very well – we got the result we were gunning for, we are assured the two spot in the conference tournament and we go in with momentum. The performance was excellent – I have no complaints on the evening.”

In the 15th minute a senior got the Panthers on the scoreboard. James Ashcroft was able to score his third goal of the season on a far-post header from eight yards out off of a serve from Rami Younes.

“Ball went wide to Rami, he was terrorizing the right back all day long. I think he is probably going to have nightmares tonight about that,” said Ashcroft. “The ball is coming across bit out of play for me, I headed on the way top corner. Thank you very much, one, nothing.”

Ashcroft came to Milwaukee from Liverpool, England, and in his four seasons here, he had a great career. This was a perfect way to celebrate Senior Night with one of the seniors scoring the game-winning goal.

“Obviously Chris Whalley brought me across and without him I wouldn’t be here, so I have to give him a big thank you,” said Ashcroft. “I have had a lot of ups and down, where I have not been playing… playing and that. To finish off up top scoring a goal, to start senior night, that was a great way to finish.”

After Ashcroft’s goal the Panthers were not finished. In the 31st minute, Luke Goodnetter was able to give the Panthers the 2-0 lead with a goal from 15 yards out on an assist from Younes.

In the remaining minutes of the first half, the Panthers were unable to add onto their score, and it was not until the 78th minute they were able to find the back of the net again.

Laurie Bell scored his Horizon League leading 12th goal of the season on a 25-yard penalty kick to give Milwaukee a 3-0 lead, but the offense did not let up.

Freshman Kostas Kotselas and Beau Laufer were able to each score their first college goals within a five-minute span. In the 85th minute Kotselas was able to finish from 10 yards out after Bell forced a turnover. Then in the 89th minute Laufer finished the scoring as he found the back of the net from 15 yards out off of passes from Patrick Ruhland and senior Kevin Ferron.

The defense continued their success tonight, and goalie Liam Anderson recorded his eighth shutout this season, while making four saves on the night.

“Defensively, we have had a great year,” said Kelderman. “Starting with our keeper, to the back line, to our team defense, we have been outstanding this year.”

The entire team had an outstanding season, and this was a perfect end to the regular season. After recording their first winning season in seven years last season, the Panthers made a great improvement in Kelderman’s second season. They recorded 13 wins and captured the second seed in the conference tournament.

“We feel very good. It’s an exciting time for the program,” said Kelderman. “To kind of sit back and reflect with it being Senior Night. We have eight guys that have had outstanding careers. They have had some ups, some downs, it’s been an exciting season. The seniors have stepped up and been a big part of that and it’s great to end the regular season the way we did.”

Milwaukee will return to action this Friday in the conference tournament at the University of Illinois-Chicago. The Panthers will not know who their opponent is until the middle of the week, as they will play the highest remaining seed in the tournament.

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