CLEVELAND, OHIO – The Panthers played stout defense and kept Cleveland State out of the net on Saturday night, but, for the fifth straight game, could not score as the game ended in a scoreless tie after two overtime periods.
As has been the case during the scoring dry spell, Milwaukee dominated the field game, as the team outshot the Vikings, 15-7. Head coach Kris Kelderman liked his team’s fight but was critical of late execution.
“It was another hard-fought game,” he said. “The guys came to play today – the effort was there, the fight was there, the will to win was there. As a coach, that is all I can ask for from my guys. We are just failing to finish and I know I keep saying that. It’s not a lack of the will to win, it’s just in that final execution. We outshot them by more than double again today, had more corners, and I felt we were very good in the run of play.”
The first half was dominated by defense, as neither team managed a shot on goal. UWM won the shots battle in that frame, 4-1.
In the second half, both teams picked up play offensively. Midfielder Francesco Saporito recorded the Panthers’ only shot on goal through the game in the 79th minute that Cleveland State goalkeeper Aleksandar Drobac saved just over the cross bar.
Like his counterpart, Milwaukee goalie Agustin Rey only needed one save, but it was a crucial one late in regulation (86th minute). After a close shot by Panthers’ forward Kostas Kotselas, the Vikings took possession off of a UWM corner kick and created a 2-on-1 opportunity. Cleveland State midfielder Gianluca DiFranco rifled a shot that Rey had to come off his line to save to preserve the tie.
Kelderman commended his defense but expressed the team’s frustration offensively.
“Defensively, we were very strong,” he said. “We are at a stage in the season where we really need three points and, unfortunately, we didn’t get it. Guys continue to play out of position and do a nice job. It comes down to scoring. All I can say is as frustrating as this has been, the guys come out fighting and working hard – we’re just having a tough time grinding out a result.”
Milwaukee dominated the overtime periods, but could not convert any of its chances. The team finished with a 6-4 corner kick edge to go along with the shots advantage. However, the road team did get whistled for one more foul (14-13).
The Panthers return home Tuesday night to take on Western Illinois at 7 p.m.