Panthers Punch Ticket To Horizon League Tournament
Nov. 3, 2012
MILWAUKEE - Sophomore Laurie Bell scored the game-winner and added an assist as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's soccer team claimed a 2-1 victory over Valparaiso University Saturday night at Engelmann Stadium.
With the win, the Panthers (8-7-2, 2-3-2 Horizon League) secure a spot in next week's Horizon League Tournament. They built a 2-0 lead, but the Crusaders (5-8-5, 2-2-3 Horizon League) scored on a late penalty kick to make it a bit tense at the end.
"It was a great win," UWM head coach Kris Kelderman said. "We have been talking about this moment from the very beginning of preseason. The guys have been through a lot, the program has been through a lot the past few years and it's an exciting evening for everyone that worked hard to get to this point. Qualifying for the conference tournament is huge for us."
Milwaukee came into the game tied for sixth place with Loyola but holding the tiebreaker. The Ramblers posted a 4-3 victory over Wright State, so UWM also needed that victory to advance to the postseason.
"We were keeping track of that game, but we came out with the mentality that we needed a victory tonight," Kelderman said. "We scored in the first half and we didn't want to change anything, we just wanted to keep doing what was working and thankfully that was what happened."
Bell gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead in the 53rd minute on a brilliant goal. Junior Lucas Davey carried the ball in from the sideline near midfield, sending a serve to the top of the box. Bell headed it to the near post, sneaking it just inside for his eighth goal of the season.
Valparaiso did make it a game in the 74th minute, converting on a penalty kick by Todd Vervynckt after a foul was called near the end line on a free kick sent to the front of the goal.
John Shakon made his presence known on "Senior Night", making five saves overall, including one in the 89th minute where he went up and snared a popped-up header right at the goal line. He also made a great play on an 85th-minute Crusader corner kick, punching a dangerous ball away from the goal.
Scoreless well into the contest, UWM had a few opportunities to get on the board. Sophomore Richard Johnson nearly had a goal in the 18th minute, but his half-bicycle kick was saved at the post.
Sophomore Kyle Neumann also made a big impression, scoring the first goal of the evening just 88 seconds after subbing in. Bell had a free kick from nearly the corner kick spot and Neumann maneuvered around the defense to send a beautiful header back to the near post to give UWM the 1-0 advantage at the 37:56 mark.
The Panthers ended up getting outshot on the night, 16-to-9, but many of those attempts came from distance when Valpo was pushing for the tying goal in the final 15 minutes. Valpo also had the 6-to-5 edge in corners and 18-to-15 cushion in fouls. In addition, the game featured seven yellow cards.
With the goal and assist, Bell pushes his season totals to eight goals, five assists and 21 points. That marks the first UWM player to record 20-plus points since Neil Dombrowski had 23 in 2005. Bell's eight goals are also the most since the same season when Dombrowski had nine.
The Valpo defense had allowed just 14 goals in 17 games coming in, with the pair of goals the Panthers scored marking a season-high they have allowed in a single game.
As stated, the victory gives Milwaukee a chance to make a run in the Horizon League Tournament. As the fifth seed, it knows it will be on the road, taking on none other than Valparaiso next week Tuesday. Game time has not yet been determined, so check back on the UWM website for updates.