Women’s soccer is back on the road in Central Michigan
Eastern Illinois (2-1-3) vs. Central Michigan (1-5)
Sunday September 11
12 p.m. in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
IN DRAFT: Eastern Illinois is looking for its second straight road win as the Panthers look to rebound from their first loss of the season, a 2-1 loss in a rainy home game last Sunday. EIU had tied the game at 1-1 before NIU could score in the final 10 minutes. EIU had snapped a four-year road skid the previous Thursday with a 3-1 win at Illinois State. Michigan Center goes 1-5 this season after losing to Michigan in their last game.
MORE LOW SCORES: Jenna little scored again for the Panthers as she found the back of the net for the Panthers’ third goal of the game at Illinois State. Little leads the Panthers with three goals this season after scoring a brace in the 2-0 win over Purdue Fort Wayne in the first week of the season. During the exhibition season, Little scored two goals with one each against Illinois Springfield and IUPUI.
RANGEL FINDS A PURPOSE: Eastern Illinois saw their third different player score in last Sunday’s loss to Northern Illinois as Karima Rangel scored in the second half. Rangel joins Jenna little (3 goals) and Zoe Paxton in the scoring column this season. Rangel’s goal was assisted by Kenzie Balcerak and Amanda Da Silva. It was DaSilva’s second assist this season, with five different Panthers having secured an assist this year. Last season, EIU had a total of six different players who scored goals during the season.
SECOND-BEST START IN SCHOOL HISTORY: Eastern Illinois had the second best start to the season in program history as the Panthers went undefeated in their first five games of the season. The best start to the year was the 1996 season when EIU opened 9-0 as they finished that season with a 16-4 record, including a 4-1 record in the Missouri Valley Conference. Already this season, EIU set a school record for consecutive shutouts with four to open the season. EIU suffered its first loss of the 2022 season in a rain-soaked 2-1 loss to Northern Illinois.
BERMEO NAMED OVC GOALKEEPER OF THE WEEK: Daniela Bermeo was named OVC Goaltender of the Week for a second straight week. Bermeo had two more clean sheets last week as the EIU played out a pair of scoreless draws against Indiana State and UIC with both games on the road. The four consecutive shutouts are a program record. Bermeo stopped both Sycamore shots on goal, with the EIU defensive line not allowing a shot on goal in the second half. On Sunday, she was up to it by stopping eight shots on goal. The Panthers played the last four minutes of the game with a player late due to a red card. Bermeo gave up his first goal of the season late in the second period in the road win at Illinois State.
PAXTON NAMED OVC DEFENDER OF THE WEEK: First-year student Zoe Paxton was named OVC Defender of the Week after the Panthers posted a pair of road shutouts at Indiana State and UIC. Paxton helped bolster the Panthers’ defensive line as they posted back-to-back shutouts extending the season-opening shutout streak to a program record four in a row. She played 71 of 90 minutes Thursday at Indiana State as the EIU did not allow a second-half shot on goal in the 0-0 draw. In the 0-0 draw at UIC on Sunday, she was one of two outfield players to play all 90 minutes. The EIU defense helped not to allow a goal and played the last four minutes of the match with a player down due to a red card. Paxton is the second consecutive EIU player to earn OVC Defender of the Week honors by joining Sarah Hagg who won after the opening weekend.
SMALL WITH A HOOK IN EIU WINS: Jenna little scored both of Eastern Illinois’ goals in EIU’s 2-0 Aug. 21 win over Purdue Fort Wayne. Little had scored one goal in the 2021 season against Morehead State and scored two goals in an exhibition game. Last season EIU had two players Nicoletta Anuci (against Illinois Springfield) and Zenaya Barnes (against Murray State) score two goals in a game.
OVC PLAYER TO WATCH: Amanda Da Silva was named Eastern Illinois player to watch in the OVC this season. A veteran player, DaSilva will slide to the Panthers backline this season after starting 16 of 17 games last season. She was one of four outfield players to spend more than 1,200 minutes on the pitch last season.
RETURN ALL-OVC: Eastern Illinois fires two artists from last season’s All-Ohio Valley Conference in Zenaya Barnes and Sarah Hagg. Barnes was a second All-OVC team selection up front. Hagg was a second All-OVC team selection at defenseman while earning All-OVC Newcomer honors.
LIFT FOR LIFE: Eastern Illinois Women’s Soccer once again participated in the Lift for Life event which raises funds in the fight against rare diseases. Kenzie Balcerak and Jenna little spearheaded the women’s football participation in this event which was originally hosted by the EIU football team. The annual fundraiser is done in conjunction with Uplifting Athletes took place on August 19.
RULE CHANGE: The NCAA will no longer have overtime sessions during the regular season. Last season, EIU played three games in overtime, earning two draws while losing a third game in the extra session. The Panthers have played at least three overtime games in each of the past four seasons, with six of those games resulting in a win or loss for EIU.
SERIES HISTORY: This will only be the second meeting between Eastern Illinois and Central Michigan. The Chippewas won the previous meeting last season with a 1-0 victory in Charleston.
NEXT: After playing just one game this weekend, EIU will be back at home for two games next weekend as they host Western Illinois on Friday, September 16 and open play for the Ohio Valley Conference hosting Tennessee Tech on Sunday, September 18. games are held at Lakeside Field.
THE HEAD COACH: Jake Plant is entering his fifth season as head coach of the Eastern Illinois women’s soccer team. A 2014 EIU alumnus and former member of the Panthers men’s soccer program, Plant served as an assistant coach for the men’s and women’s programs for two years with an additional season as an assistant in the men’s program before being named coach. -EIU women’s leader in 2018. Plant led EIU to a 6-8-6 record in her first season, including a 4-3-3 record in OVC play. In 2019, he again took EIU to the OVC tournament by winning a first round match. He enters his fifth season with a 16-36-13 record with a 10-20-8 record in OVC games after making the OVC tournament in three of four seasons. He is originally from Birmingham, England. He is assisted by Dirk Bennet.