MILWAUKEE - Evan Conway scored a few minutes in front of the halftime horn to help propel the Milwaukee men's soccer team to a 2-1victory over Detroit Mercy Saturday night at Engelmann Stadium.
The Panthers (8-6-2, 3-3-1 Horizon League) did what they needed to against the Titans (1-14-2, 0-6-1 Horizon League), keeping their postseason hopes alive with a much-needed victory on "Senior Night" in the second-to-last game of the regular season.
"We needed a win; we needed the points tonight to keep going after this and get in the conference tournament," head coach Kris Kelderman said. "It was a fight – we fought from the very beginning to the very end. Detroit is a very difficult team to play against – never mind their record – they are a hard team physically, they fight hard and their system is tough to figure out. It wasn't the prettiest at the end, but the guys rolled up their sleeves and did what they had to do to get the three points."
Conway's goal came off a throw-in from Shawn Azcueta that was redirected by the defense. Conway picked possession back up, dribbled along the top of the box and then rifled a bullet from the top of the circle inside the upper-90 of the top right of the goal to put the Panthers back ahead.
"Great goal, great finish," Kelderman said. "Evan worked extremely hard tonight. He is a guy that has really put a lot of pressure on himself of late. He's getting a lot of opportunities and he's hungry to score."
The goal came at the 42:04 mark and was Conway's team-leading sixth of the season.
In the second half, the biggest play came from goalkeeper Freddy Lorenzen, who made a brilliant stop of a hard-hit attempt in front in the 71st minute, stopping the ball from crossing the line with just one hand to keep the lead at 2-1.
The game was deadlocked prior to Conway's strike after Detroit Mercy was able to take advantage of an MKE miscue, tapping in what was nearly an own goal to equalize in the 22nd minute.
Vuk Latinovich opened the scoring on the night with a brilliant free kick, curling the 20-yard effort inside the left post at the 5:38 mark to get Milwaukee's night off to a strong start.
"We got off to a great start," Kelderman said. "I was telling the guys at halftime, it could-have, should-have been 4-0 maybe 12 minutes into the game. We had some really good chances. We got the first goal early and then I don't know if we got comfortable and then had the hiccup to let them back in the game. The guys responded and finished strong."
The Panthers had a couple of other quality scoring chances in the first half. Conway had a run thru the box stopped with a diving save in the 30th minute and Alex Sykes whizzed a volley just wide of the right post in the 26th.
Sykes also had a very nice attempt after getting sprung on a thru ball from Conway saved with a dive at the post in the 52nd minute.
For the game, Milwaukee ended the night with a slim shot advantage of 14-to-13, with both teams putting five on target. MKE also had seven of the nine corner kicks, while UDM was whistled for 19 of the 34 fouls and was shown three of the four yellows.
Conway paced the offense with four shots; Sykes ended the night with three. Lorenzen was credited with four saves to pick up the much-needed victory.
The final game of the regular season is next, with Milwaukee traveling to take on first-place and nationally-ranked (as high as No. 16 in the polls) Wright State Friday. Game time is set for 6 p.m. CST.