Sept. 28, 2013
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The UIC men’s soccer team held off SIU-Edwardsville Saturday night at Korte Stadium to collect its sixth-straight win and fifth-consecutive shutout. Senior Bob Novak lifted the Flames to a 1-0 win with his first goal of the season.
The win improves UIC’s season record to 6-2-0 and marks its third straight against the Cougars, while SIU-E drops to 4-5-0 after losing its last three matches.
“We knew going into tonight that it would be a great challenge to get the result,” head coach Sean Phillips said. “SIU-E was excited to be back home, had been unfairly on the short side of their last few results, is one of the best possession teams in college soccer, and has a lethal center forward who only needs a half chance to change the game and can score on any restart.”
The Flames did not wait to take the lead against the Cougars, as Novak took a pass from sophomore Jorge Alvarez, his fourth assist of the season, and put the ball past senior goalkeeper John Berner in the fourth minute. UIC went on in the first half to take two additional shots by senior Slobodan Aleksov and Alvarez, while freshman goalkeeper Andrew Putna made two saves off of SIU-E’s six attempts.
"Getting the early goal, a great piece of interplay between Jorge (Alvarez) and Bob (Novak), whose finish was tremendous, gave us an early unexpected advantage," added Phillips. "Unfortunately, we were not able to convert a second high quality chance shortly thereafter when Kyle Lindberg put his body on the line blocking a clearance that went to the SIU-E crossbar and back into play."
UIC continued into the second half and was not allowed a shot by SIU-E, while the Cougars took six shots to take the match’s shot advantage 12-3. Putna made three additional saves, five total in the match, while earning his fifth-straight shutout and improving his season GAA to 0.75.
"Toward the end of the first half, and for large parts of the second half, SIU-E’s ability to possess the ball was evident," Phillips said. "However, we kept compact and disrupted their ability to get a high number of quality chances. When they did have those chances, either our goalkeeper was up to the challenge or we did a good job of disrupting the last pass or blocking the shot with our improving team defending."
The Flames are back in action Tuesday evening when they host Michigan State at 7 p.m. CT at Flames Field in their last non-conference match before opening Horizon League play.
"While we continue to post positive results and find ways to win these tight games, this group understands that we must continue to improve all areas as we host a very tough Big Ten opponent in Michigan State on Tuesday, and then begin conference play on Saturday against defending Horizon League Tournament Champion Cleveland State."