Oct. 25, 2013
VALPARAISO, Ind. – The UIC men’s soccer team collected a come-from-behind win Friday night at Brown Field to defeat conference-opponent Valparaiso, 2-1, and stay unbeaten in Horizon League play. Senior Aris Zafeiratos scored the game-winning goal and his first of the season in the 80th minute to lift the Flames to their sixth-straight win.
With a 5-0-0 first-place record in the Horizon League, UIC improves to 12-3-0 overall, marking the first time the team has won 12 of its first 15 games since 1999. Valparaiso moves to 3-6-5, 0-3-2 HL, on the season, and has now lost three-straight matches.
"We came out very well in an environment that has traditionally been very difficult and created some positive pressure early," head coach Sean Phillips said. "Valpo, though, brought a great mentality, created some dangerous opportunities and deserve credit for being opportunistic in taking their goal."
Despite strong possession in the first half, the Flames fired off just four shots by senior Slobodan Aleksov (3) and freshman Joel Leon (1), while receiving two offside penalties to prevent further opportunities. Freshman goalkeeper Andrew Putna was able to make two key saves in the early minutes of the game, before the Crusaders' Kevin Klett came in to knock the ball past Putna in the 42nd minute for a 1-0 lead.
UIC began the second half with four shots in the first 10 minutes of play, causing Valparaiso’s goalkeeper Tom Serratore to make his first and only save of the game against redshirt-senior Josh Beard. UIC continued to create chances and in the 70th minute, sophomore Kyle Lindberg netted the equalizer for his fourth goal of the season.
"At halftime, we spoke of a few simple adjustments and reminders about finding our success in simpler plays in the wide areas of the field and getting our backs a bit more involved in the attack," added Phillips. "The players brought those changes into the second half. However, the most important part of what we brought to the second half was the belief that we were going to find a way, which we did."
With the match tied at 1-1, the Flames continued to plug away and were able to break up the Crusaders’ passes and start their counterattack. After missing wide, Zafeiratos came back in the 80th minute to score his first goal of the season, assisted by junior Jesus Torres and sophomore Jorge Alvarez, for the game-winner.
UIC held a 13-8 shot advantage against Valparaiso after making nine attempts in the second half. Putna made four total saves off of Valparaiso’s five shots on goal to improve his save percentage to .750, while allowing one goal for a 0.78 GAA this season.
"I am very proud of the maturity and inner strength that is developing in this group," said Phillips. "We still have a number of important challenges ahead of us in the final three games of this season, especially the most immediate one at a very talented Oakland team on Wednesday."
The Flames continue Horizon League action on the road when they head to Rochester, Mich., to face Oakland at 6 p.m. CT Wednesday.