Men’s soccer takes opener

Danny Schoenbaechler

The new-look Western men’s soccer team opened its season Saturday night with a win.

The Hilltoppers were led by a strong group of freshmen, and defeated Kentucky Wesleyan 4-0. Three of Western’s four goals were scored by newcomers. Freshmen Brandon Bailey, Jake Isenhour, and Jason Dugas each scored in their Topper debut.

“We really hit the road hard with recruiting,” Western coach David Holmes said. “We brought in some freshman that can really score.”

The Topper defense began the season on the right note with the shutout. The defense was anchored by junior Ron Plute.

“Our defense is coming together well,” he said. “As long as we are solid in back, we will be solid as a squad.”

Plute has played as an outside defender for the past two season, but has now taken over duties as the team’s sweeper. The Toppers’ defense is mainly led by juniors and sophomores, which makes them considerably more experienced than the offense.

Holmes used numerous different combinations with the midfield and forwards. And the Toppers had seven first-year players on the field at one point in the second half

“Forward is probably the hardest position on the field to play. But it might be the easiest for a coach to choose who to play,” Holmes said. “The people that score goals are going to be ones that play up front.”

Holmes didn’t think his offense played perfectly, but he thought that things came together for the youngsters as the game went on.

“We missed some early opportunities. But with ball control, we were able to put some goals away later in the game,” he said.

Sophomore forward Justin Goodman, who got an assist on Western’s third goal, said he thinks the freshmen have done a good job considering how early it is in the season.

“They are getting into the game early and really gelling together,” he said. “I thought they played really well tonight.”

The Toppers won’t have long before their next game. Belmont will visit Bowling Green Tuesday night, giving the rookie scorers and veteran defense a chance to prove their mettle against some stiffer competition.

“Belmont should be a bigger test for us,” Holmes said. “They are supposed to be the best team Belmont has ever had.”