Milwaukee Claims Panther Invitational Title With Convincing Victory
Sept. 4, 2011
Four different members of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's soccer team scored goals to help claim a 4-0 victory over Western Michigan University and win the team title at the 37th Panther Invitational Sunday at Engelmann Stadium.
Senior Keegan Ziada and freshman Gerardo Saavedra each had a goal and an assist to lead the Panthers (2-1-0) over the Broncos (0-3-0), handing UWM its 22nd team title in the 37 years the invitational has been held.
"It's great to score four goals and we created a lot of chances again today," UWM head coach Chris Whalley said. "We probably rode our luck a little bit at times - they hit the post and the cross bar. But it's positive, we scored seven goals in three games and we have kept two clean sheets at home here and it's nice to bring the Panther Invitational back and win it here."
Senior Robert Refai tallied his second goal of the season, netting the eventual game-winner in the 32nd minute, while freshman Richard Johnson rounded out the scoring column with a goal in the 78th minute.
The victory gave Milwaukee a 2-0 mark on the weekend and the title, the first in its own invite since 2006. Marquette (1-1-0) would end up second after falling today to Western Illinois (1-1-0), which was third. WMU (0-2-0) finished fourth. The four-goal output also marked the most at home for UWM since a 4-0 win over Lipscomb in September of 2006.
"At one point I think we had six freshmen on the field near the end of the game and created chances with young players on the field," Whalley said. "That's got to be positive because these guys are the future of this program."
The Panthers came out firing once again, with Ziada nearly opening the scoring in the ninth minute. He took a combination of passes from Refai and freshman Alex Megna on the right wing, but had his low shot attempt stopped with a diving save from WMU's Sean Lewis.
In the 23rd minute it was junior Cody Banks with an opportunity, but Lewis was at his best to stop a volley from Banks, sending the rebound up and over the cross bar in the 23rd minute.
Refai broke through at the 31:40 mark, volleying a short cross from the end line from Ziada into the back of the net.
Saavedra would double the lead to 2-0 at the 42:31 mark, blasting a free kick from the right side to the upper right corner of the goal, giving Lewis no chance for a stop.
The Panthers were not content there, nearly making it 3-0 right before the half when freshman Laurie Bell had a close-range attempt turned away by Lewis.
The Panthers continued the offensive barrage in the second half, with Bell getting stopped on a one-timer in the 47th minute and sophomore Riley Weiner sending a deflection just over the cross bar in the 59th.
Sophomore Kevin Ferron earned the team a corner kick on a shot attempt that was saved at the post in the 78th minute, setting up the third goal when Saavedra sent the ball to Johnson in the middle of the box. His header went off the cross bar and bounced straight down, causing some quick confusion before being ruled a goal.
Freshman Kyle Neumann started the final strike, flicking a header at midfield to Banks, who sent a perfect through ball to Ziada past the last defender. Ziada did the rest, easily beating the keeper who had come off his line.
For the game, the UWM offense continues to pile up shot attempts, earning the 19-to-11 advantage today, including 11-to-3 in shots on goal. Milwaukee also had five of the eight corner kicks and 20 of the 32 fouls. Banks led the offense with six shots.
Junior John Shakon recorded the 10th shutout of his career and second-straight over the weekend. He was credited with three saves, including a brilliant stop in the 33rd minute off a close-range volley that kept the game at 1-0 in UWM's favor at the time.
"When you keep clean sheets you always give yourself a chance to win a game," Whalley said. "And the way we're playing right now, the way things are clicking, we're scoring goals. The fact that we are able to keep a clean sheet and do that is pleasing because we are working hard in training and the guys are buying in and listening to what we are trying to do."
Saavedra was named the Panther Invitational MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by Refai, Ziada, Shakon and Johnson. Rounding out the all-tournament team was Shane Lyons (WMU), Luis Lemus (WMU), Andy Ryan (WIU), Alexis Dominguez (WIU), Andy Huftalin (MU), Eric Pothast (MU) and Bryan Ciesiulka (MU).
Another big week awaits the Panthers, starting with the Milwaukee Cup showdown against Marquette Friday, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. at Engelmann Stadium.