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The Lakeland College men's soccer team pulled off a big victory over Northern Athletics Conference opponent Milwaukee School of Engineering on Tuesday, Oct. 23, scoring all four of its goals in the second half to take the game, 4-1.
The Muskies (3-13, 3-6 NAC) fought neck-and-neck with the MSOE in the first half, but neither team could find the back of the net despite a tenacious offensive attack from the Raiders, who pegged the post on two of their eight shot attempts.
However, junior forward Carroll Devlin ended the scoring drought early in the second half with a solo shot in the 47th minute, followed by two more Lakeland goals by junior midfielder Kevin Fitchett on an assist by sophomore forward Ryan Malo at the 56:10 mark, and a solid shot by sophomore defender Doua Vang in the 63rd minute to put the Muskies up, 3-0.
"We came out kind of flat in the first half, but I think once we were able to get a goal it helped relieve a little bit of the pressure," said head coach Dave Madsen. "We relaxed and started to play the way we are capable of playing."
The Raiders ended the Muskies' hopes of a shutout at the 80 minute mark, picking up a miscleared ball for the squad's first and only goal of the game. Malo went on to knock in Lakeland's fourth goal with less than one minute to play to close out the win.
"We started playing together and talking to each other more," Malo said of the Muskies' improved play in the second half. "That helped us get some goals and dominate the game. Our defense played well, too, and did a good job of getting us the ball."
The win gives Lakeland a shot at making the NAC Tournament if they are able to earn a win against Benedictine University on Saturday, as the Muskies would improve their conference record to 4-6. MSOE currently holds the coveted No. 6 spot in the conference rankings at 4-6 with no games left to play, but if the Muskies' record ties the Raiders, Lakeland would get the nod for that sixth spot having defeated MSOE today.
"It was a must-win game today," Malo said. "We new we needed to win it to have a chance at getting into the conference tournament, and we did. Now we have to focus in practice this week and get the job done."
Madsen agrees, and has already started devising a strategy to earn Lakeland its first NAC Tournament appearance.
"We're halfway there," Madsen said. "I knew coming into this week that we had to go 2-0 to get into the conference tournament. As soon as the whistle blew to end today's game, I changed my focus to Saturday.
"We know we have the talent, the question will be if our focus is there or not. We need to come with the right focus and the right attitude to defend well and work for each other on Saturday."
Game time with Benedictine is set for 7 p.m. in Lisle, Ill.