The Northern Kentucky University men’s soccer team will travel to Springfield, Mo., to battle Drury at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 16.
The game will feature two tough teams that are ranked in the top 25 of the Division II national polls. The unbeaten Panthers are ranked No. 8 in the polls and the Norse (9-2-1, 6-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference) are ranked No. 15. It is also a match-up between the two top teams in the GLVC.
Drury (11-0, 8-0 in the GLVC) has a plethora of experience and talent that returned from last season. The Panthers have 14 juniors and four seniors on the squad, which has contributed to their perfect play. With the number of veteran leadership that the Panthers can send onto the field, it can be considered for them to be a dangerous contender to win every game.
Drury has allowed just three goals all season and have posted nine shutouts through 11 games. Junior goalkeeper Stephen Conner has recorded 30 saves for the Panthers, and the team has only allowed opponents to get off 79 shots at the goal, according to the Drury Athletic Web site.
The Panthers are averaging 3.73 goals per game and they have five players on the team that have scored six goals or more. Junior forward Micah Worton leads the way with nine goals, two players are tied with seven and one player has six goals this season, according to the Drury Athletic Web site. Worton is also a solid passer as he leads the club in that category with seven assists.
Drury’s defense has proven to be nearly impenetrable and their offense can be very explosive. The Panthers have outscored their opponents 41-3 and more than half of their goals have come in the second half of play.
Despite such an experienced group and the undefeated record, Drury has yet to face a team that can match up with them on the turf.
NKU will be the team that will challenge the Panthers for the top spot in the conference. The Norse has been very unselfish with the ball, which has allowed them to be successful on offense. NKU has 27 assists to holster their ability to get open shots. Each of the assists are coming from multiple players on the team and with that, the team’s chemistry continues to gel.
NKU has outscored their opponents 30-11 and are averaging 2.50 goals per game. While they are getting solid offensive production, they are also getting great performances from junior goalkeeper Michael Lavric. Lavric has recorded 32 saves this season and currently posts a .744 save percentage.
By harnessing a shutout against Findley on Sep 6, Lavric collected the 17th of his career and now sits atop the NKU career record books. Lavric added on to that stat by helping the Norse hold off Illinois-Springfield (6-0), on Oct.4.
Defensively, the Norse have allowed opponents to punt 111 shots on the goal and they are holding teams under an average of one goal per game, according to the NKU Sports Information Web site.
Junior forward Steven Beattie and sophomore midfielder Andrew Montgomery have led the Norse’s offense during their first 12 games. Beattie has accumulated 11 goals and one assist and Montgomery has collected six goals and one assist so far this season. Beattie has scored 42 career goals for the Norse and is just five goals short of passing Chad Scott’s 46 career goals on the all-time list at NKU.
With a clash of pure talent and physical play, this game should be tight right down to the last minute of the game. The team that is more physical and scrappier than the other will be the team that will claim the ‘W.’
Next, NKU will travel to Rolla, Mo., to face conference foe, Missouri S&T (4-3-1, 4-4-1 in the GLVC) at 1 p.m. on Oct. 18.