DETROIT, Mich. – Evan Conway broke through for the game-winning goal early in the second half to send the Milwaukee men's soccer team to a 2-0 victory over Detroit Mercy Monday morning at Titan Field.
The Panthers (10-6-2) advanced past the Titans (7-11-1) with the No. 6 over No. 3 upset in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament, on a day that looked more like early January than early November.
"I thought at the start of the second half we really made a huge step and took over the game throughout the rest," head coach Kris Kelderman said. "Massive victory for our group and for our program. Very excited to go to Chicago."
The game was played under snowy conditions, including a field covered with remnants of the five inches that accumulated in the local area. Even halftime was extended to allow for as much snow removal as possible in the front of both goals.
"As a born-and-bred Wisconsin guy and forever-cheesehead, I have experienced some snowy, wintery conditions at soccer games, but this had to be the most challenging one I have ever experienced," Kelderman said. "Kudos to our guys, I couldn't be more proud."
Conway broke through in the 51st minute, playing a give-and-go with Vuk Latinovich on the left wing. The pass gave him some space and he did the rest – sending his team-leading sixth goal of the season just under the crossbar before racing to the corner flag to celebrate with teammates.
Joshua Kidder provided some insurance later, heading in a cross from Josh Kaye to seal the victory at the 71:26 mark.
The win continues a strong run of play for the Panthers, who are now 6-1-2 since the calendar turned to October 1.
"What was even more impressive was, under the conditions, there were moments when we looked like a very good soccer team," Kelderman said jokingly. "Some great goals; a good performance from start to finish under the conditions."
Freddy Lorenzen posted five saves for his sixth shutout of the season. He made the important ones late, securing quality chances in the 63rd and 83rd minutes to preserve what is his 19th career shutout, moving into second place on the all-time list in program history.
Conway nearly pulled off an improbable start, having a snowy shot get saved just 48 seconds in. Today's game-winner marks his third consecutive outing against Detroit Mercy in which he has accounted for the winner. He netted the lone goal in the 1-0 regular-season win as well as the deciding goal last fall in MKE's 2-1 decision.
Milwaukee ended the contest with a slim 12-to-11 advantage in shots, with both teams putting five of them on target. The Titans did prevail in corner kicks, 9-to-7. Latinovich paced the Panthers with a game-high four shots.
Up next, the team heads to Chicago Thursday for Horizon League Tournament semifinals. It will be a rematch of last Friday's contest against No. 1 UIC, a game in which the Panthers claimed a 3-2 victory to earn their spot in the postseason.
"This game against UIC will be harder than the first one, but at least we have proven to ourselves that if we play well and fight as hard as we have been, that we can pull this off on Thursday," Kelderman said.
Kickoff against the Flames is set for 4 p.m.