Wright State men’s soccer: Raiders searching for offense during sluggish start

FAIRBORN — The Wright State men’s soccer team has been putting pressure on opposing goalkeepers, generating 11 shots in a 2-0 loss at Ohio State on Monday and 43 through their first four matches.

But fifth-year coach Jake Slemker knows the Raiders won’t contend for the Horizon League title again without a higher conversion rate. They’ve got just one goal, by senior forward Joe Kouadio, in their 0-3-1 start.

“Essentially, we’ve done enough to keep ourselves in games, but we just haven’t been able to take the pressure off our defense and score some goals,” he said, his team having given up a manageable eight goals. “We’re pushing pieces around, hoping to create more opportunities in front of the net. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to kind of have that killer mentality to do whatever it takes to get the goal, even if it’s not the prettiest.”

Junior forward Reece Allbaugh was sixth in the league in points last year with 17 (six goals and five assists), but the second-team all-conference pick has been blanked so far.

The Raider attack took a hit when junior midfielder Chris Geddis, who made the 2020 HL all-freshman team, suffered a torn ACL in spring workouts. He’s out until at least next month.

“Reece has been close. He’s hit the post a couple times. Unfortunately, he missed a PK in the first game. I think he’s a little snakebit at the moment,” Slemker said.

“We’re waiting for these guys to unlock themselves.”

After four straight games on the road, the Raiders will host IUPUI in their first league match at 5 p.m. Saturday (admission is free) and then will face visiting Duquesne at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Slemker didn’t intend to have such a long wait before playing at Alumni Field, but putting the schedule together was a challenge.

The Raiders are just three years removed from knocking off Notre Dame in the NCAA tourney and four from setting a program record for wins while going 13-3-3, reaching as high as No. 11 in the Top Drawer Soccer Top 25.

Quality opponents know their history and are apprehensive about setting up a series.

“We couldn’t get games this year. We’re two short of what we could have,” Slemker said.

“We’re good enough to beat you, so you definitely don’t want to come here and play. That’s the real issue we get. And just geographically, some of the teams we could play in the region are Big Ten teams, and it’s hard to get them to travel away from home.”

Wright State was picked fourth in the HL preseason coaches poll, getting one first-place nod.

Oakland was named the favorite, edging out Cleveland State. But that’s not the way Slemker sees it.

“I think Cleveland State has the strongest returning team, and everyone else is in a big pile together to see who can get results,” he said.

“Being home for the next couple games is going to be good — getting to sleep in their own beds, have a normal game-day routine and, hopefully, gain some confidence in front of the goal.”

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