MACOMB, Ill. - The Western Illinois men's soccer team will travel to Oakland on Saturday in attempt to snap its five-game winless streak and pick up its first win in The Summit League this year.
The Fighting Leathernecks (2-5-2, 0-0-1) are also looking to hand the Grizzlies (5-3, 1-0) their first conference loss of 2012.
Following this weekend, Western Illinois will travel to Drake on Wednesday before returning home against Fort Wayne on Saturday.
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN GRIZZLIES: Oakland is currently 5-3 and looking to build on a two-game winning streak...Through Sept. 23, the Golden Grizzlies are ranked 15th nationally in scoring (2.43 goals per game) and 14th in shutout percentage (57 percent)...Kyle Bethel is tied for eighth in Division I with five assists...Miche’le Lipari leads the team with 12 points on five goals and two assists, just ahead of Bethel who has 11 points and three goals in addition to his five assists...Scott Messer has totaled a 5-3 record in goal behind a .705 save percentage and 1.65 goals against average.
SERIES HISTORY: Western Illinois is 11-8-2 against Oakland all-time...The Leathernecks are 2-0-2 in the last four contests, including a pair of 1-0 victories last year, the second win coming in the Summit League Tournament semifinals...Current assistant coach and former goalie Andy Ryan earned shutouts in both games, totaling 10 saves.
LAST TIME OUT: The Leathernecks are coming off a 1-0 loss to Northern Kentucky on Tuesday, in which the Norse scored with less than five minutes remaining in regulation...Following a 5-0 Summit League win over Oral Roberts, the Golden Grizzlies defeated Duquesne 2-1 in double overtime on Wednesday...A Bethel goal tied the game at 1-1 in the 63rd minute and Matt Dudley scored in the 106th minute to end the game.
OFF THE SCHNIDE: Western Illinois snapped a span of nearly three weeks without scoring a goal when Nathan Bruinsma scored in the first half against Omaha, assisted by Charlie Bales and Austin Gochneaur...The team’s last goal before that was Sept. 2 at Valparaiso in a 1-0 win.
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.
DIAPER DANDY: Gochneaur leads the Leathernecks in points (5) as just a freshman, scoring a pair of goals in a 2-1 win over DePaul and adding an assist against Omaha...His shots have also 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.
SUPER SENIOR: Bruinsma scored his first points of 2012 with his goal against Omaha...The game-tying shot was his 12th of his career in Purple & Gold...He also recently surpassed 100 career shots, standing at 105 over his four years...He has finished either first or second on the team in goals scored each of his first three seasons.
STINGY D: Western Illinois ranks 57th in the nation with a 0.95 goals against average, best in the conference...The Leathernecks are also tops in the conference in save percentage at .820, 44th-best in Division I.
OFFENSIVE DEFENDER: Junior defender and reigning Summit League Defensive Player of the Year Charlie Bales is also an offensive threat in addition to a significant defensive presence...He leads the team in assists (two) and has totaled 12 points and 88 shots in his three-year career as a Leatherneck.
READY TO REBOUND: The Leathernecks are 7-1-3 following a loss in the past two seasons and haven’t suffered a three-game losing streak since 2010.