Oct. 19, 2013
CHICAGO – For the second time this season, the UIC men’s soccer team went into double overtime and came out on the winning end, as it took down conference-opponent Wright State, 3-2, at Flames Field Saturday night. Senior Slobodan Aleksov scored his second goal of the game and the game-winner in the 105th minute to maintain the Flames undefeated record of 4-0-0 in the Horizon League.
The win marks the fifth straight for UIC, as its overall record goes to 11-3-0 this season, having won 11 of its last 12 games. The Raiders fall to 3-7-1 overall, with a 1-3-0 mark in the Horizon League, and have lost their last three matches.
"When you step back and look at the three very difficult conference games we had in a span of seven days, we knew going in with Wright State that we were going to have a lot of challenges," head coach Sean Phillips said. "I thought for the first 80 minutes, our guys solved the tactical problems that Wright State gave to us. We were pretty good on most of our set pieces, we scored our second goal countering from one of their set pieces and scored our first goal off an attacking set piece, and we created a number of other good chances."
The Flames were in control of the first half of play, registering four shots while not allowing the Raiders to make a single attempt. The Flames persistence paid off in the 35th minute, when redshirt-senior Josh Beard headed in a pass off a corner kick from senior Bob Novak to score his second goal of the season.
After firing off six shots to start the second half, UIC came away with its second goal after Aleksov shot in a pass from senior Aris Zafeiratos in the 60th minute. UIC was able to maintain possession until the final 10 minutes of regulation, when the Raiders scored twice, once by sophomore Brett Elder and another by junior Emeka Ononye, off a pair of corner kicks from freshman Eric Lynch to tie the game.
The Flames and Raiders each had a shot on goal in the first overtime, and the second overtime began with a shot by Lynch. Following a yellow card caution to sophomore Kyle Lindberg, junior Jesus Torres brought the ball in and made a pass to Aleksov, who shot the ball in for the game-winner, scoring his second goal of the game and seventh of the season.
"The game of soccer is 90 minutes, and Wright State deserves credit for continuing to plug away," added Phillips. "We fell asleep on two restarts, which we had not been doing for a large stretch of the season, and Wright State took excellent advantage of those last 10 minutes. We were able to get it to overtime and, much like the Eastern Illinois game, I think the character of this team showed through in finding a way to win here in front of our fans."
While allowing two goals for a 0.77 GAA this season, freshman goalkeeper Andrew Putna made three saves, one in both overtime periods and in the second half, for a season total of 32 and a .744 save percentage. Wright State’s freshman goalkeeper Tyler Blackmer made five saves on the Flames and allowed three goals for a 1.50 GAA this season, while dropping to 2-4-0.
The Flames will take a short break from action and return to Horizon League competition on Oct. 25, when they head to Valparaiso, Ind., to take on the Crusaders at 7 p.m. CT at Brown Field.
"We found a way to win a tight conference game, against an opponent who had a full week to prepare for us, and now we get a week off to start to prepare for another tough Horizon League game against Valparaiso on Friday.”