Spring Preview: UIC Men's Soccer Begins Spring Season Saturday
April 3, 2013
CHICAGO- The UIC men's soccer team will lift the lid on its spring season Saturday, when the Flames travel to DeKalb, Ill., to take on Northern Illinois. UIC, who is coming off a third-place finish in the Horizon League's regular season last fall, will look to build momentum toward the 2013 campaign over the next four weeks.
"We are excited to get our spring season underway this Saturday," said head coach Sean Phillips. "It will be great to play against someone other than ourselves after a long winter. NIU, who lost to national power Akron in the 2012 Mid-American Conference final and earned an at-large berth into the 2011 NCAA Tournament, will provide us with a great measuring stick for where our returning players are individually and collectively."
UIC's regular season finish in 2012 was its best since the 2008 season. The Flames are set to return 15 letterwinners from last season, including seven players that tallied three or more points. Highlighting the returnees are All-Horizon League honorees Jesus Torres, Thomas Villamil and Josh Beard.
Torres, an explosive frontrunner that has been a staple of head coach Sean Phillips' offense the past two seasons, collected First-Team All-League accolades last fall. Meanwhile, Villamil and Beard were each named Second-Team All-Horizon League. Villamil provided immediate stability to a very young back line in his first year of eligibility, while Beard was a steady performer at three different positions throughout his junior campaign.
Also returning to Phillips' back line will be Zach Kaleta, a senior-to-be in 2013. The Barrington, Ill., native was the lone veteran slotted in the line of defense last fall, and helped the Flames record five clean sheets on the season.
Other notable returnees include goalkeeper Piotr Kikolski, who started 15-of-17 matches last season; junior Slobodan Aleksov, the Flames' second-leading scorer (4 goals) in 2012; Kyle Lindberg, a regular starter that had three assists as a freshman; Joel Salmeron, who scored three goals in his freshman campaign, and sophomore-to-be Jorge Alvarez, who scored one goal and had a pair of assists in his first season in a Flames uniform.
Also set to return this spring and in the 2013 season are Alexios Fronimos, Colin Marz, Marcin Modzelewski, Piotr Lagowski and Manny Chavez, who combined to play in 53 matches last season. Modzelewski also established himself as a starter along the back line, and will join Kaleta and Villamil in what will be a veteran group when training begins next fall.
UIC will play on the road for the first two weeks (April 6/April 13) of the spring season, before returning home to take on Lewis University at Flames Field on Tuesday, April 16. The Flames will also host Wisconsin to wrap-up the spring season on Saturday, April 27.