Success continues for club soccer

By Chris Cook

The Illinois men’s club soccer team further improved its record with two victories in Ohio last Saturday against Dayton and Miami of Ohio. Illinois has now won 10 of its last 11 games. The only non-victory came in a close tie to Michigan last weekend.

Despite success on the scoreboard, the team experienced a rough Saturday plagued by a tight time-schedule, injuries and bad field size.

The first game against Dayton was originally set to begin at 3 p.m. but was rescheduled to an earlier 11 a.m. start. In the end, Illinois pulled away with a 2-0 victory with goals from junior Dave Brown and freshman Ryan Reed.

But Brown felt the team got off to a slow start.

“I thought we were a bit lackluster from the beginning,” he said. “We need to come out sharper.”

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Brown is still recovering from a broken nose he suffered against Bowling Green three weeks ago. He said the injury has a slight impact on his game.

“It’s difficult to maintain the aggression because I’m wary of the injury,” he said. “It especially affects my play in the box.”

Brown is the team’s leading goal-scorer, but failed to score in the games on Sept. 24 in Michigan. Last weekend, however, he bounced back to score a goal in each game and was praised by teammates.

“(Brown) played his first games since the injury and struggled a little bit,” player/coach Dan Malloy said of his play in Michigan. “This weekend (against Dayton and Miami of Ohio), he got back into his scoring groove; he demands that of himself.”

Brown, however, was not completely satisfied with his efforts against Dayton.

“I scored one, but I should have had at least two or three,” he said.

At one point, he hammered a shot off the crossbar.

Many of the players felt goals were harder to come by in these games due to the size of the fields.

“I thought the fields were too narrow,” Malloy said. “I think that benefits the team with less skill.”

The small fields did not agree with Illinois’ system. They like to spread it out and create open situations for their wingers Todd Mayer and Rickie Partyka. Under the circumstances, however, Malloy thought they played particularly well.

“Todd and Rickie were great,” he said. “They did a fine job of setting up our offense.”

After the game, the team instantly packed up and left to make it in time for its 3 p.m. game against Miami of Ohio in Miami – a one hour drive from Dayton. This game was originally scheduled to be played on Sunday. Malloy felt the schedule was too hard and had a negative effect on the team.

“A lot of guys were feeling tired and under the weather,” he said. “Therefore, our bench became a key part.”

One of the players to come in off the bench was freshman goalkeeper Dan Sammarco. Starting goalie Brian Summerville left early with an injury after taking a kick to the lower back. Sammarco was thrown in without warm-ups. Not long after, a miscommunication with Malloy almost resulted in an own-goal.

“I was really nervous right then,” Sammarco said. “And I could tell my teammates were skeptical.”

From then on out, he stepped it up and played a major role in a tight 3-1 win.

“Dan had some fantastic saves,” Malloy said. “He helped secure the victory.”

“I was just relieved to get the win,” Sammarco said. “It felt good.”

Sophomore defender T.J. King scored two goals and Brown added his second of the day with a fantastic free kick from the top of the “D.”

Illinois continues its season next weekend with three games at home against Purdue, Butler and the College of DuPage.