Oct. 1, 2013
CHICAGO – The UIC men’s soccer team created the chances to score Tuesday night at Flames Field, but it was ultimately No. 25 Michigan State who netted two goals in the second half to break the Flames six-game win streak with a 2-0 win.
The Flames move to 6-3-0 on the season, with their first loss since Sept. 6 against DePaul, 3-1, while Top Drawer Soccer-ranked Michigan State improves its season record to 6-1-1.
"It is always tough to lose, especially after being on such a positive streak of six-consecutive wins, five of which were shutouts," head coach Sean Phillips said. "To get the result against a very experienced and talented Michigan State side, we were going to have to be a little bit sharper in all areas than we had been the past month."
UIC came out in the first half and tallied six shots, including three on goal by senior Bob Novak, sophomore Joel Salmeron and junior Jesus Torres, forcing Michigan State’s sophomore goalkeeper Zach Bennett to make the saves. The Flames held the Spartans to six shots in the half, with just one on goal saved by freshman goalkeeper Andrew Putna.
Michigan State kicked off the second half with a strong physical presence, collecting 12 fouls in the latter half and 17 total in the game against UIC’s 10. The Flames were still able to answer with five additional shot attempts, four of which were on goal off of sophomore Kyle Lindberg, redshirt-sophomore Thomas Villamil and senior Slobodan Aleksov, who led the team with four shots, two on goal.
"I felt we put forth a good effort this evening and created enough in the attack that we could have scored a couple of goals, either from the run of play or our attacking restarts. However, to credit MSU’s backline, we were missing that final pass from the run of play and bit of conviction on our attacking restarts."
Off six attempts in the second, the Spartans scored in the 57th minute with a rebound shot by junior Adam Montague and in the 74th minute by freshman Dewey Lewis. Putna made two more saves to finish the match, while the defense assisted in blocking four of the Spartans 12 shots.
"In even games like this, set pieces can often be the difference," Phillips added. "Michigan State had been very good on those of late. We had been showing such progress in our discipline and conviction during our defensive restarts and were pretty good tonight except for two moments. MSU, unfortunately, took full advantage of the two times we lost our focus and made the difference in the game."
UIC returns to Flames Field Saturday to open Horizon League play against Cleveland State at 7 p.m. CT. The match is scheduled to be the first of four conference games the Flames will host this season.
"We have a pretty good group character wise," said Phillips. "The coaching staff will take a look at the film and get the boys back out on the training ground tomorrow to regroup, learn and move forward into Horizon League play on Saturday. Our last response to a loss was positive. I look forward to a good performance on Saturday, when we host the defending Horizon League tournament champion Cleveland State."