MACOMB, Ill. -
The Western Illinois men's soccer team returns home after five straight road games to open Summit League play against Omaha on Saturday at 1 p.m. at John MacKenzie Alumni Field.
Leathernecks are set to welcome the Mavericks to the conference, after the squad transitioned to Division I last year and became an official league member in 2012.
Western Illinois is hoping to end its three-game winless slide, falling 1-0 to UIC, tying Wisconsin 0-0, and losing 3-0 to No. 20 Marquette.
Following Saturday's game, Western Illinois will play host to Northern Kentucky on Tuesday at 5 p.m. before continuing league action at Oakland next weekend.
A LOOK AT THE MAVS: Omaha is in the midst of its first season in The Summit League after transitioning into Division I in 2011...The Mavericks are currently 2-4, coming off losses to No. 25 UC Riverside and San Diego State...Omaha has had four straight one-goal contests, including a 3-2 win over Seattle...Vance Rockwood has been the team's biggest offensive threat, totaling eight points on three goals and two assists...Chava Garcia and Devin Diego have each added a pair of goals, too...Giovanni Giattino leads the squad with three assists...Matt Grosey has played every minute in goal, notching a .725 save percentage and 1.83 goals against average...Giattino is the reigning Summit League 'Offensive Player of the Week' after a three-point performance against San Diego State.
SERIES HISTORY: Saturday's match marks the first ever meeting between the two teams.
LAST TIME OUT: The Leathernecks are coming off an 0-1-1 finish at the UIC Soccer Classic...Western Illinois tied Wisconsin 0-0, before falling 1-0 to Illinois-Chicago...Omaha is coming off a close 1-0 loss to 25th-ranked UC Riverside...Matt Grosey made six saves in goal...The Mavs took 14 shots, including five from Jesus Perez and four from Emir Alihodzic, but none found the back of the net.
IT'S NOT HOW YOU START...: Western Illinois men's soccer teams that struggled early on in the season have gone on to excel later in the season...Last year, the team started 0-2-1, but went 13-5 the rest of the way en route to a Summit League title...The 2009 conference championship team began the season 0-4 before turning things around.
BEST OF THE WEEK: Sophomore goalkeeper Yves Dietrich is the reigning Summit League 'Defensive Player of the Week'...Dietrich saved eight of the nine shots he faced at the UIC Soccer Classic, including a diving save in overtime against Wisconsin to preserve the tie.
ATOP THE SUMMIT: Dietrich ranks among The Summit League's best goalkeepers...His .794 save percentage and 0.97 goald against average are second-best in the league, behind a player who has only played in three games.
TOURNAMENT 48: The Fighting Leathernecks are projected by TopDrawerSoccer.com to be one of the 48 teams in the 2012 College Cup. Western Illinois is predicted to be The Summit League champion, which would earn the squad an automatic berth into the playoffs.
SNIPER: Freshman Austin Gochneaur leads the team with two goals and is tied for the team-high with five shots on goal...His shots have been precise to date, with only one of his six shots missing his target, giving him an .833 shot on goal percentage, by far the best on the squad.
STINGY D: Western Illinois ranks 73rd in the nation with a 0.97 goals against average...No other Summit League school ranks in the top 150, with Omaha and Kansas City tied at 157 with a 1.83 GAA...The Leathernecks are also tops in the conference in save percentage at .811, 48th-best in Division I.