TULSA, Okla. - With three matches remaining on the schedule, hope remains strong for the Oral Roberts men's soccer team as they enter the second to last weekend of Summit League play on Saturday.
The Golden Eagles (3-11-0, 2-3-0) travel to Western Illinois (3-8-4, 1-2-2) in a matchup between the sixth and seventh place teams in the conference standings. Saturday's contest is a rematch of the 2011 Summit League championship game in which the Leathernecks squeaked by the Golden Eagles, 2-1.
Just a week before the championship game, on ORU's senior day, the Golden Eagles pulled off the upset the Leathernecks. John David James, Marco Hernandez and Trevor Laffoon each netted goals in the 3-2 victory.
After losing a lot off of last year's championship squad, the Leathernecks come into the weekend as the lowest scoring team in the conference with just 10 goals. Fortunately, their defense has gotten the job done on the pitch with the second fewest goals against at 22.
By contrast, the Golden Eagles have netted 15, but allowed the most with 39.
Offensively, the Leatherneck threat is a balanced attack, with seven players each recording goals this season, including senior Nathan Bruinsma, sophomore Mario Alvarez and freshman Austin Gochneaur leading the team with two goals each.
Another threat for the home team is that of Charlie Bales. On Monday, Bales was named the Summit League defensive player of the week, but he also plays a key role on the offensive side of the ball, leading the team with three assists and has scored a goal.
Once the Golden Eagle offense, led by James, Laffoon, Cody Lofgren and a host of others, gets deep into the Leatherneck third of the field, they will be challenged by Dietrich Yves in the net. Yves has played every minute of the season for the Lethernecks, picking up 63 saves and a pair of shutouts against Valparaiso and Wisconsin.
The Golden Eagles will host one last non-conference game at home next Tuesday when Newman comes to town for a 7 p.m. start, followed by their regular season finale at the Case Soccer Complex on Nov. 2 against Omaha.