Following up on an emotional last-second win over defending Region 2 champion Rose State, the Eastern Men were on guard for a let down when they traveled to Arkansas to take on Rich Mountain on Thursday night. The Mountaineers carried the momentum of their hard-fought win with them and climbed over Rich Mountain for an early 2 goal advantage, then battled back and forth with the dangerous, Region 2 newcomer for a well deserved 2-2 tie on the road over an exciting 110 minutes.
Eastern went up 1-0 less than 10 minutes into the game as sophomore leader, center back, Dani Huerta came forward to knock in his second goal in as many games. Before 20 minutes had gone by, freshmen Tyler Broughton got on to the end of a long distribution from Carlos Neto in goal and pushed the ball by the Rich Mountain defender before blasting a long-range shot over the charging goalkeeper to put the Mountaineers out in front 2-0. The goal was the first of Broughton's young career to go along with his assist on Huerta's opening goal.
Eastern went into the break maintaining a 2 goal lead before Rich Mountain cut the lead in half on a penalty kick five minutes into the second half. Rich Mountain added another score on a deflection off of a free-kick in the second half to even the score. Both teams would exchange scoring opportunities with Eastern looking dangerous as the game wore on. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers could not find a game-winner and instead held on for the tie and picked up some well-deserved points on the road once again.
- The Mountaineers earned their first tie of the season.
- Dani Huerta scored his second career goal in as many games.
- Tyler Broughton picked up his first points at Eastern with an assist and a goal on the night.
- Carlos Dias Neto went the distance, playing 110 minutes in goal and picking up an assist to go with 5 saves on the night.
- Eastern took 9 shots placing 6 on target.
Head Coach Jon Evan said: "The team came out with the right energy, attitude and toughness tonight. We were determined to get points on the road tonight and that's what matters. Mission accomplished. As with any result, there is always room for improvement. We would've liked to close out the game or even be more decisive about our finishing and add to the lead so we'll have to get better in both those areas. No doubt Rich Mountain is a quality team and they deserve credit for battling back. We were unfortunate with a few of the calls late, in particular on the goals, but if we take care of business and put the game away we won't be in that situation in the first place."
Evan added, "There were signs throughout the night that we were focused on the right things. Obviously the good start was enjoyable, but even with Rich Mountain battling back and some of the calls that went against us we played through it and played the right way for 110 minutes. The guys played hard on both sides of the ball and we had contributions all over the field from everyone. So we are heading in the right direction. We'll take the result, get back to work, and prepare to close out the first half of conference play next week against Murray State whose leading in the standings at the moment."
Eastern (3-4 / 1-2-1) hits the road again on Thursday, Oct. 3. when they travel to Tishomingo to take on Murray State. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.