The Southern Illinois University men’s soccer team wrapped up its non-conference schedule with a 1-1 draw at South Florida Tuesday.
“Overall, this was a gutsy, solid performance in a difficult environment,” Head Coach Kevin Kalish said. “Every game poses a different challenge and we had to respond psychologically to different challenges throughout this match.”
Forward Christian Volesky put the Cougars (5-5-2, 1-0-0 MVC) in front just before halftime with his team-leading fifth goal of the season in the 42nd minute.
The Bulls (4-2-6, 1-1-2 AAC) responded in the second half, however, as Lindo Mfeka scored in the 67th minute to even the score at 1-1.
“South Florida is a quality team and they raised their urgency in the second half,” Kalish said. “After we gave up the equalizer, it was good to see us respond in the run of play and fight back again.”
SIUE goalkeeper John Berner made a season-high seven saves in net for the Cougars, lowering his goals against average to 0.87 on the year. Shots on goal were even at 8-8 between the two sides for the game.
After SIUE created several chances early on in the first half, Volesky gave the visitors the lead minutes before the halftime whistle. Matt Polster sprayed a ball wide to Paul Scheipeter, who sent a low cross in from the left side, where the Cougars’ leading scorer was on hand to turn the ball home from close range.
The teams traded chances in the second half before the Bulls drew level through Mfeka, who scored his fifth goal of the year to level the score at 1-1.
SIUE had numerous opportunities to net the game-winner, both in regulation and in overtime, but the score remained 1-1 after 110 minutes of play. Volesky, Jabari Danzy and Justin Bilyeu each had two shots on goal.
“Our first half performance was pretty good, especially toward the end of the half,” Kalish added. “I felt like we had a good handle on the game and we were in control for stretches. Once the game settled and we found our feet after the equalizer, we had moments to win the game both late in the second half and in overtime.”
The Cougars will now focus on Missouri Valley Conference play. All five games left on SIUE’s schedule are against MVC opponents.
SIUE will return to action Saturday, when they travel to Des Moines, Iowa, for a match against Drake. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Cownie Soccer Complex.