MaCOMB, Ill. – Vuk Latinovich scored just before halftime to open the floodgates as the Milwaukee men's soccer team went on to post an impressive 4-0 victory over Western Illinois Sunday evening.
The Panthers (1-0-0) piled on three more second-half goals to cruise to the season-opening win over the Leathernecks (0-1-1).
"It was a great effort from the guys," head coach Kris Kelderman said. "It was hot temperatures and very humid, so we used a lot of players. We had a good number of lineup changes and the reserves stepped in and did a nice job to help us get the 'W' today."
Latinovich netted a free kick at the 43:13 mark to send the Panthers into the half with the edge. The offense kept up the pressure and broke through to double the lead in the 68th minute when Alex Sykes picked one off from the WIU goalkeeper and banged it into the back of the net.
About 15 minutes later, Josh Kaye sent home a penalty kick at the 80:07 mark to make it 3-0. The team wasn't done there, getting a fourth goal in the 85th minute when Sean Holmes buried a pass from Sykes to close out the scoring.
"That is one thing that I am excited about so far is that our depth has really been a plus for us in preseason games and, obviously, in this game too," Kelderman said. "So that is encouraging and exciting to see."
A defensive battle in the first half, MKE was credited with the only four shots of the period.
The Panthers kept up the strong defensive effort all night, with Freddy Lorenzen posting the ninth shutout of his young career while making just one save.
A late change saw the game get played on the WIU practice field due to John MacKenzie Alumni Field being unplayable.
"We scored some really nice goals and I thought we took over the game in the second half and started to dominate offensively," Kelderman said. "It was a great team effort from top to bottom in a tough environment to play."
For the game, MKE saw advantages of 9-to-3 in shots and 5-to-1 in shots on goal. The team also had four of the 10 corner kicks. Kaye and Francesco Saporito led the way with two shot attempts apiece.
Up next, the team heads to Dayton for a weekend tournament, taking on the host Flyers Friday and Ohio State Sunday. Game time Friday is set for 6:30 p.m.