Sept. 20, 2013
CHICAGO - The UIC men's soccer team brought out a strong intensity to Flames Field Friday night, and was able to get the result it came for, by defeating nationally-ranked Gonzaga, 1-0, for its third-consecutive shutout win on the opening day of the UIC Soccer Classic. Sophomore Jorge Alvarez scored the lone goal for the Flames, marking his third goal, and game winner, of the season.
With its fourth-straight win, UIC improves to a 4-2-0 record, while Gonzaga, who was recently ranked No. 19 in Soccer America's Top 25 and No. 24 in TopDrawerSoccer.com's Top 25, drops its first match since Aug. 30 and goes to 3-2-0 on the season.
"Anytime you play a team of the quality of Gonzaga, you want to win," head coach Sean Phillips said. "We were able to get that, and the fact that it was a shutout was even better. We had some good goalkeeping early, some good individual and team defending as the game wore on, and we were pretty close to nipping a second goal a couple of times, but today was a championship type performance."
From the start of the game, the Flames and Bulldogs were neck-and-neck in their offensive and defensive zones. Each team had plenty of opportunities to score, but in the 36th minute, UIC collected the only goal of the game, when Alvarez dribbled in to the top of the box and shot his third goal of the season past Gonzaga's senior goalkeeper Ryan Caballero.
The Flames added five additional shots in the first, three coming from Alvarez, as the Bulldogs attempted eight. Freshman goalkeeper Andrew Putna made his four saves of the game in the first half, while collecting the shutout win and improving his GAA to 1.00.
The physicality of the match turned up heading into the second half, as UIC and Gonzaga collected 15 fouls a piece by the end of 90:00 minutes, with a yellow and red card being issued to the Bulldogs as well. Offensively, the Flames were able to fire off four additional shots, with Caballero making three saves, as the Bulldogs shot seven.
"It was a very intense game," Phillips added. "We felt we were on a good three-game winning streak. The boys needed to give our loyal fans their most honest performance to date, and I think they did that. Not only did the players get rewarded for the win, but I think our fans got reward with a great performance by the guys and a win against a nationally-considered team."
UIC is back at Flames Field on Sunday for the final match of the UIC Soccer Classic. The Flames are scheduled to go up against IPFW at 2 p.m. CT, with Gonzaga and Wisconsin facing off at 11 a.m.
"We have to continue to get better," Phillips said. "If we're not careful, IPFW is going to be able to get a result. Our players have to take a mature approach to the game, which I think they are starting to exhibit. Still a lot of things that have to get worked on, but we continue to go in the right direction and continue to do more and more little things right every game."