Parkside Defensive Delivers

Parkside digs deep and breaks out the hard hats in order to claim victory in a grind-it-out physical battle over Indiana. UW-Parkside men’s soccer squad hosted the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles (2-2) (2-1) on a picturesque friday afternoon at Wood Road Field in Kenosha.

The Rangers (5-1-1) (1-1-1) would strike first and never look back as senior forward Johnson Thao’s lone goal (5) would be protected by a stingy defense.

“The guys epitomized defensive conviction and desire that resulted from positive decision making,” said Parkside head coach Rick Kilps. “Their ability to maintain composure throughout the game all the way to the finish is a credit to everyone on the squad.”

A bevy of bad breaks plagued the Rangers golden opportunity to take control of the momentum early. Two questionable offside penalties spoiled Parkside possessions and even stoked the fiery side of Kilps.

In addition, two one-timed shot attempts by Parkside’s sophomore midfielder Spencer Bursten failed to make their way inside the Indiana goal-posts. The first sailed just inches over the top crossbar while the second was credited to Indiana net-minder Keenan Johnson who would perform a miraculous save by smothering the point-blank shot.

Consistently knocking on the Eagles door, Parkside’s offensive harassment would pay dividends at 18:44 with a treat courtesy of Thao. After controlling a Cyril Simmons advance of the ball, Thao would weave his through traffic showcasing some brilliant footwork and finish off the highlight reel by blasting a cannon passed Indiana’s Johnson.

Thao, scoring his team leading fifth goal, had already come into action leading all Parkside players with 10 points before tacking on two more.

Such a grueling match was anything but a tale of two halves as the Rangers would pick up in the second half with the same high octane pressure. Surrendering just a meager 0.69 goals per game by their opponents, UW would yet again depend on stable defensive efforts from standouts Jason Moxley and Matt Gloshen.

The Rangers have outscored their opponents 12-3 in the second half of their first seven games.

This lethal pair would anchor a defense that would prove paramount to opening up scoring opportunities for Parkside play-makers as well as relieving pressure off goal-keeper Jamie Lieberman. Parkside’s backstop made his debut Friday following a four-game hiatus due to a hamstring injury.

“I credit great assistance from the staff for a successful rehab,” assured Lieberman. “Defensively though, our program has really taken a leap forward since last season.”

With just minutes remaining, an unsatisfied UW club felt it fitting to put the game away with an additional goal. However, Johnson denied such a proposition by committing high-way robbery of junior Jose Alfaro’s shot on goal. Despite late-game aggression from both squads, the Rangers would hold on to a 1-0 win heading into the weekend.

Parkside completed play nearly doubling up the Eagles in shots on goal with a 9-5 advantage; Johnson made eight saves while Lieberman contributed five. Out of Parkside’s nine shots on goal, eight were chipped in by different Rangers.

Sunday afternoon the Rangers get set to host Kentucky Wesleyan University with an official start time of 2:30. Engaging in their fifth conference bout, Parkside will enter with a 2-1-1 Lake Valley Conference record.

With a chuckle from Kilps, “Whether you’re a casual fan or a fanatic, that’s some terrific soccer I think everyone can appreciate.”

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