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Cougars, Tigers Battle to 2-2 Draw

Jorge Gonzalez
Jorge Gonzalez

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – SIUE men's soccer opened the 2018 regular season Friday with a 2-2 double overtime draw on the road at Memphis.

The Cougars and Tigers each are 0-0-1. SIUE had lost three straight games on the road to Memphis.

Trailing 2-1, the Tigers scored in the 86th minute to even the score and force overtime.

"The biggest thing I'll take away from this game is the character of the guys," SIUE Head Coach Mario Sanchez said. "They give up a late tying goal and they continued to stick with it when they could have given up."

Each team managed just a single shot in overtime.

"Neither team got a whole lot (in overtime), but we settled the game pretty well," Sanchez added.  

Memphis outshot SIUE 17-14 for the game, but the Cougars held a 9-7 advantage in the second half.

Jorge Gonzalez and Lachlan McLean, SIUE's top two goal scorers in 2017, both picked up their first tallies of the season.

Gonzalez opened the scoring in the 18th minute. McLean picked up the assist after a steal and a pass to Gonzalez to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead at half.

After the Tigers evened the score in the 59th minute but McLean answered with a goal of his own in the 61st minute to put the Cougars back on top 2-1.

"Those two guys are crucial for us," Sanchez added. "Lachlan is a proven goal-scorer and Jorge proved it as well last year. It is good to see them get off the mark. They can play off one another really well."

Much like two preseason games, SIUE used 19 players over the course of the game.

"Tulsa was different from Cincinnati and Cincinnati was different from tonight," Sanchez said. "But we showed the depth of this team."

Noah Heim played all 110 minutes in goal for the Cougars, making eight saves in his first full game since last November with Marquette. After transferring to SIUE, Heim missed the spring season with injury. He played the majority of minutes in the Cougars' two preseason games, but did not play a full 90 minutes in either game.

"Noah is going to get even better as he settles in and gets comfortable," Sanchez said.

SIUE will return home for a Tuesday night contest against UMKC.

"Obviously we can play better, but the reality of college soccer is you have two weeks for preseason and you play a game," Sanchez added. "We'll get our energy back, get healthy, rested and ready for Tuesday night."

Kickoff with the Kangaroos is slated for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Korte Stadium.