Flames Fall In Championship Final, Await Postseason Fate

Senior Slobodan Aleksov recorded four shot attempts against Milwaukee.
Senior Slobodan Aleksov recorded four shot attempts against Milwaukee.

Nov. 17, 2013

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EVANSTON, Ill. – After enduring a four-hour delay due to severe weather conditions and moving the match to Northwestern's Lakeside Field, the UIC men's soccer team was unable to hold off No. 2 Milwaukee on Sunday, as it suffered a 2-0 loss in the Horizon League Championship Final.  The Flames will now wait for their chance to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament during the NCAA Selection Show tomorrow at 11 a.m. CT.

The loss for UIC marked the first defeat since Oct. 1, when it fell to Michigan State, and moved its season record to 16-4-0, while Milwaukee improved to 15-2-2 and received the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

"First, congratulations to Milwaukee on their championship performance and result this evening," head coach Sean Phillips said.  "When you have two quality soccer teams dealing with the adverse weather conditions and other challenges as we both did this weekend, it often comes down to who executes their set pieces the best and Milwaukee did.  They also made it very difficult for us to connect our passes going into transition which has been a strength of ours all season."

With wind gusts reaching up to 42 mph, the Flames put up a fight against the Panthers and recorded five shot attempts in the first half, with three on goal, by seniors Slobodan Aleksov, Bob Novak and Aris Zafeiratos.  The Panthers created chances of their own as they came away with seven shots and two on goal, while also picking up opportunities on their four corner kicks.

The wind continued to play a significant role in the game and was not in UIC’s favor in the second half, as the ball continued to change direction mid-air during a number of its attempts.  The Flames were still able to fire off three shots, despite Milwaukee’s continuous effort to break up their chances.  The Panthers registered six shots in the second, including the two goals of the game by Andrew Stone in the 51st minute off a corner kick and Declan Rodriguez in the 67th minute off a free kick.

Milwaukee held a 13-8 shot advantage over UIC, while recording six on goal over the Flames’ four.  Freshman goalkeeper Andrew Putna made four saves during the match, with the Panthers’ Liam Anderson producing four saves as well.

Aleksov, redshirt-senior Josh Beard and junior Jesus Torres were named to the All-Tournament Team following the match after having strong performances against Wright State and Milwaukee.

"I am extremely proud of this team," added Phillips.  "They have won 16 of their last 18 games and set new regular season standards for this program.  I also feel that these players deserve another opportunity to play this year.  We will find out tomorrow if we get the opportunity to make this year a bit more special."

The NCAA Selection show will take place tomorrow at 11 a.m. on