Eunisell Boot: The five men giving their best shots

first_imgThe lockdown has meant that the race for this year’s Eunisell Boot remains under wraps, though the battle for the biggest individual prize in Nigeria’s top division is expected to resume soon.This season, strikers in the Nigeria Professional Football League are proving to be prolific in front of goal. With the season just past the halfway mark, four players are already in double figures so far and the projection is that one of them could reach the 20-goal mark.The most goals in a season in the NPFL still stands at 23, a feat which was achieved by a former winner of the Eunisell Boot, Mfon Udoh, six years ago.However, the field for this season throws up different contenders, with Rangers forward, Israel Abia, the frontrunner with 12 goals.On his heels are Ndifreke Effiong of Akwa United, Auwalu Ali of Kano Pillars and Plateau United’s Ibrahim Mustapha on 11 goals apiece, while Enyimba’s Victor Mbaoma is on nine goals.Top league writer, Fisayo Dairo, believes only three of the five players are frontrunners in the Eunisell Boot race. Dairo picks Abia, Effiong and Mbaoma ahead of others and posits that Abia looks likely to reach 20 goals this term.He said: “The front runners for me will be the trio of Israel Abia, Ndifreke Effiong and Victor Mbaoma.“Abia because he was already settling in perfectly at Rangers and scored twice in his last game.“The unfortunate death of Ifeanyi George also avails him the chance to play all games.“So you can fancy him to get up to eight goals in the remaining 14 matches for Rangers. “Ndifreke Effiong also because he seems to have mastered how to score in the nooks and crannies of the league.“Having to play with a forward together, sometimes Akarandut Orok or Saidu Salisu, has also helped him to do less physical work and concentrate on finishing.“For Mbaoma, Enyimba have now gelled under Fatai Osho, his manager when he was one of the top scorers three years ago.“I believe with the number of chances that Enyimba create each game, especially from someone like Cyril Olisema, Mbaoma and Dimgba will still score plenty more goals before the season ends.”RelatedPosts NPFL: Coach Dogo leaves Sunshine Stars NFF sanctions NPFL 2019/2020 final table Ex-Eagles’ keeper joins Kwara United However, Auwalu cannot be dismissed as making up the number.He has been Kano Pillars’ mainstay for goals – scoring five in his last three matches before the lockdown.Mustapha has also thrown his hat in the ring, scoring thrice in his last two matches for Plateau United following about a month’s spell without a goal.With the League Management Company a few days ago stating its plans to restart the top division and run it within six to eight weeks following the lockdown by the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the battle to claim the Eunisell Boot this year will take shape as the run-in to the season looms.TOP-FIVE EUNISELL BOOT SCORERS12 GOALS Israel Abia (Rangers)11 GOALS Ndifreke Effiong (Akwa United) Auwalu Ali (Kano Pillars) Ibrahim Mustapha (Plateau United)9 GOALS Victor Mbaoma (Enyimba).Tags: Eunisell BootGoal Scoringnpfllast_img read more

UW hits open ice, air in Colorado

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoAfter a grueling series in which the Wisconsin men’s hockeyfinesse players were bottled and bodied up by a suffocating North Dakotadefense, they head to Colorado College for open ice and air.The large sheet that No. 7 CC (5-3, 5-1 WCHA) skates on willplay into No. 9 UW’s strengths. “It gives our skill guys more time, that’s for sure,” seniordefenseman Kyle Klubertanz said. The series could very well translate into piles of goals,something that piques forward Ben Street’s interest.”Me being a forward, I’d love to get some scoring going,”Street said, also noting that the Tigers are talent-laden as well. “Everyone’sgoing to be chasing each other all over the rink so it’ll be tough.” It is particularly intriguing for Street and linemate KyleTurris, Wisconsin’s two leading scorers with 11 and 14 points respectively,because they were effectively shut down against North Dakota. For Turris, theNo. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, the series was particularlyrough, as he was shoved around by Sioux defenders. “It was frustrating this past weekend because [North Dakota]did a real good job, but it’s something that us as a line and him as a playerare going to have to get used to and battle through,” Street said. “He’s going to adapt, I mean it’s not the first time it hashappened in his life,” UW head coach Mike Eaves added. To alleviate some of that pressure and wanting to switchthings up to find the right mix, Eaves will move senior Matt Ford to the frontline. “The way things went Saturday, because of the way Matthewhas been playing and the experience he brings, so perhaps that’ll be thechemistry we’re looking for with Ben and Kyle to see if we can get some offensefrom them,” Eaves said. The switch is an intriguing one, as it will put Turris andFord on the same line for the first time ever. In order for the newly alignedfirst line to have some success, they’ll have to get the puck past a talentedgoaltender.Freshman Richard Bachman has played an integral role inColorado College’s conference-leading 5-1 record. Last Saturday he stopped 34Minnesota-Duluth shots to earn WCHA Rookie of the Week. He’ll be matched upagainst another Player of the Week, Wisconsin goalie Shane Connelly. The UW junior had a tremendous weekend as he compiled 74saves, including a 43-save shutout last Friday. It was what Eaves has beensearching for from his starting netminder all season, and Connelly’s coachhopes it can continue. “We were looking for that kind of performance, and heprovided it for us. Now his next step is to continue on that path and beconsistent,” Eaves said. “That’s what makes good athletes great.” Wisconsin (5-3, 2-2) will also need to be ready to play onback-to-back nights — a feat this year’s team has yet to accomplish, accordingto Street. “We need to play both nights — we haven’t done that yet —and we need to play a full six periods too,” he said. “We’ve had a few lapsesthat have hurt us, and we’ll come in one night, maybe not too prepared, alittle too nervous or something and it has cost us.” As one of the handful of upperclassmen on the team, andleaders on offense, it is Street’s job to make sure that his teammates staylevel-headed following a dominating win or devastating loss. “What you did Friday night means nothing toward what you doSaturday night,” Street said. “Usually the games are so completely differentthat you’d think they were played months apart; tell the guys to get back toneutral here, we’ve got another game, a job to do — that’s the importantstuff.”Although the two teams face each other every year, sometimestwice, the Wisconsin players admit that they aren’t too familiar with ColoradoCollege. That’s because like the Badgers — they have seven freshmen playingregularly — the Tigers are young. “Idon’t really know too much about them,” Klubertanz said. “I heard they canskate, so we’ve just got to hit them; shut them down and hit them.”last_img read more

No. 16 Syracuse’s offense fails to keep pace with No. 5 North Carolina in 20-11 loss

first_imgOnly five times in Syracuse’s program history has it allowed 20 goals. But it did on Saturday, and the Orange’s offense needed to turn out a herculean effort to stay in the game.But as has been the case in all of its conference games this season, SU’s offense provided nothing extraordinary.“We didn’t show up today and deliver our best game, our best performance,” SU head coach Gary Gait said.No. 16 Syracuse (8-7, 0-5 Atlantic Coast) couldn’t win enough draws to get a lot of offensive chances on Saturday and the chances the Orange had were often squandered. For the fourth game in a row, SU’s season-scoring average was lowered and it meant No. 5 North Carolina (10-3, 5-1) pulled away and won easily, 20-11, in the Carrier Dome.The problems started at the draw, as they so often have for SU this season. Emily Hawryschuk, an attack who began taking collegiate draws in games on March 29, took 27-of-33 draw attempts for the Orange. Between Hawryschuk and Julie Cross, who took the other six, the Orange won 10 of 33.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“They were in our heads,” Gait said of UNC’s draws in the second half. “They had the chemistry flowing on the draw. They just dominated.”The lost draws forced SU to defend for long stretches at a time. But when SU won the draw or took possession after one of UNC’s 12 turnovers, it couldn’t capitalize. The Orange turned just 11 of its 27 shots into goals, dropping SU’s conference scoring average to 12.2 goals per game, compared to 16 per game out of conference.In a repeat of Duke’s defensive plan, the Tar Heels face-guarded Nicole Levy for much of the game’s 60 minutes. Postgame, Gait said, “I don’t know if that was an issue,” citing other problems as more major than whether or not Levy touched the ball. But Levy, even after a very cold stretch, ranks second on SU with 34 goals. And she touched the ball no more than a handful of times Saturday, as North Carolina successfully took SU’s sniper out of the equation.For a few moments early in the second half, SU’s offense looked like it’d have a shot to redeem itself. Hawryschuk scored less than two minutes into the frame to bring the Orange within two goals.But then, UNC won a draw and scored. The Tar Heels won the next draw and scored, again. And UNC won the next draw as well, following it up quickly with another goal. A two-goal lead exploded to five. The Orange never got closer than four goals from that point on.“Anytime you’re down like that, you’re gonna force it,” Gait said. “…Trying to catch up, get five goals at a time instead of one.”More Coverage:No. 16 Syracuse’s shortcomings exposed in 20-11 blowout loss to No. 5 North CarolinaGallery: No. 16 Syracuse crushed by No. 5 North Carolina, 20-11 Published on April 14, 2018 at 3:59 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 Saturday’s game was the first that the Orange had played on a full week’s preparation since SU’s fourth contest. There was plenty of time to prepare for the tight, man-to-man defense that the Tar Heels played. The preparation didn’t equate to goals. Instead, UNC looked to have taken advantage of its own week off.Syracuse’s Alie Jimerson played for the first time in more than two weeks after dealing with a lower leg injury. Normally an important distributor from behind the net for SU, the Tar Heels focused on shutting down cutting lanes when Jimerson caught in her favorite spot.Outside of Hawryschuk’s four goals, the Tar Heels looked well prepared. Faceguarding Levy worked. Syracuse’s left-handed attackers — Riley Donahue, Molly Carter and Sam Swart — had any openings to the left denied, again and again. Donahue and Carter would spin, back and forth, back and forth. But whenever they tried to break free left, their primary defender or help defense was in the way.Hawryschuk said the Orange tried to keep its mindset focused on one goal at a time to get a run going. The run never came for SU.“We just have to regroup and focus on the next game plan,” Hawryschuk said.The Orange won’t have a week off before its second-to-last game of the regular season. No. 2 Boston College hosts SU on Thursday. And the Eagles, prior to their Saturday game, had the second-best scoring offense in the nation.“We’ve got to find a way to flip the switch here,” Gait said. “… We’ll regroup and try to get an upset at Boston College.” Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more