By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Springfield, IL---Glenroy Miller scored twice, while Nickyle Webber scored once and assisted on another as the Express men's soccer team shut out Lincoln Land Community College 3-0 on Sunday in the championship game of the Loggers Invitational Tournament.
It was the first loss of the season for Lincoln Land (3-1), who had upset No. 24 Illinois Central College 3-2 in Saturday's semifinal.
Express head coach Art Johnson credits the team's solid play recently with the switch to a more defensive formation.
"With the absence of Novak (the team's leading scorer last season), we actually switched into more of a dominant midfield position," he said. "The whole idea is to compact the field. So far it's been working. We're not scoring as many goals, but we get more scoring chances as the game develops."
Neither team used many subs today, and the scoring started when Express goalkeeper Joshua Kleinow booted a ball beyond a pressing Lincoln Land defense in the 56th minute. Miller grabbed the high bouncing ball and put it in the net for what turned out to be the game winning goal.
Miller then added the team's second goal in the 70th minute before Webber iced the game with a third goal in the 85th minute.
"The guys, they're just learning each other," Johnson said. "The insertion of Jacob Martin into the starting lineup has been huge, too. We knew he was good and he was talented. We knew we needed to get him on the field."
Martin's first start came against No. 7 Schoolcraft, and he has now started three consecutive games. He has played 90 minutes in each of those games.
Miller added to his resume as one of the nation's top goal scorers as he now has nine goals in six games. Moreover, he now sits at 25 career goals - eight away from tying Fabio Cardoso's 33 goals (1999-2000), which would put him in fourth place in career goals.
Webber now has three goals and three assists this season, and he is the team's second leading scorer behind Miller. Webber has 14 goals and eight assists in his career.
Vijay Gentles added one assist, and he finished with two assists in the tournament. Kleinow, who sat out the team's only loss with an injury, has dominated the past three games, while only allowing one goal. He made five saves today.
"Josh has made critical saves and deflected key balls," Johnson said. "He's just been really steady. He's so instrumental for us."
Owens defeated the College of DuPage 1-0 on Saturday to reach the title game.
The Express (4-1-1, 1-0 OCCAC) will now be off until Wednesday when the team resumes OCCAC play with a 4 p.m. home matchup against Cuyahoga Community College. That game starts a stretch of three consecutive home games over a five day period.
On a side note, the six game start for the Express is the best six game stretch to open a season since the 2007 team started 7-0-1.