UIC Men's Soccer 2013 Season Preview|
Aug 29, 2013
CHICAGO - The 2013 UIC men's soccer team is set to begin regular season play on Friday night as they host in-state rival Eastern Illinois at 7 p.m. CT. Flames Field will house 12 UIC home games throughout the season, including eight non-Horizon League contests.
Six seniors look to lead this year's squad of 13 freshmen, eight sophomores and one junior. The Flames finished preseason action with a 1-1 record, highlighted by a 2-1 victory over Wisconsin on Aug. 19.
"We're extremely excited to be starting our season against Eastern Illinois," said head coach Sean Phillips. "They are well-coached and have a number of talented players and we will need to be at our best."
After the Panthers, UIC continues their four game homestand against UC-Santa Barbara on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Gauchos won the 2006 NCAA title and are tabbed as the No. 13 program in the country by College Soccer News. The Flames will turn around the following weekend and host DePaul on Friday, Sept. 6, and Western Michigan on Sunday, Sept. 8.
On Oct. 1, UIC will host reigning Big Ten Tournament champion Michigan State in one final tune-up before the Horizon League season begins.
"It's important for us to have home games during the early portion of the season," said Phillips. "This allows our newcomers to gain some confidence and help them balance their athletic and academic responsibilities. Our fans will have the chance to see some great homes games this season. We're excited to play some marquee teams, but as of right now we are focused on Eastern Illinois."
This year's seniors include Slobodan Aleksov, Josh Beard, Alexios Fronimos, Piotr Kikloski and Notre Dame transfers Bob Novak and Danny O'Leary. Beard was tabbed as second-team All-Horizon League in 2012 as UIC's lone junior Jesus Torres picked up first-team accolades.
"Our returning seniors set the tone early and serve as good examples for our newcomers," said Phillips. Our newcomers have a tremendous amount of championship experience and most of them have played in state, regional and national finals. When you combine that experience with our leadership, I think you have a unique blend of championship-caliber soccer that our fans will really enjoy. It's obvious to our coaching staff that both the returners and newcomers have put in the necessary work over the summer and committed themselves to getting better."
Horizon League play will commence on Oct. 5 as the Flames entertain Cleveland State. UIC also hosts Milwaukee, Wright State and Green Bay as the team will make road trips to Detroit, Valparaiso and Oakland.
"I think this will be the most competitive year of Horizon League soccer in recent memory," said Phillips. "Oakland is a great addition to the league and I think we are finally getting the national recognition we deserve as a conference."