Sept. 12, 2013
CHICAGO – The UIC men’s soccer team hits the road for the first time this season to compete in the Belmont Invitational at Rose Park this weekend in Nashville, Tenn. The Flames will take on Lipscomb at 3:30 p.m. CT Friday before facing host Belmont at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
UIC (1-2-0) returns to competition after splitting a pair of matches between DePaul and Western Michigan. On Sept. 6, the Flames dropped a 3-1 decision to the Blue Demons at Flames Field before turning around on Sept. 8 and defeating the Broncos, 4-2.
During the two games, UIC recorded goals by sophomore Kyle Lindberg (1), senior Slobodan Aleksov (2), junior Jesus Torres (1) and sophomore Jorge Alvarez (1). The Flames tallied a total of 30 shots, 15 in each match, as freshman goalkeeper Andrew Putna came up with two saves and a season-combined 2.00 GAA.
"We want to continue to see steady improvement," head coach Sean Phillips said. "We made some improvements from Friday to Sunday, but we still have to make that margin of error slimmer, take the opponent a little bit tighter defensively, be a little bit better offensively in the final third, and I think those things are starting to take shape. We did a good job of it this week in training, but it's a lot of the little things. If this team can tighten those up, we'll be heading in the right direction."
Lipscomb is 2-1-0 this season after competing against Belmont (Aug. 30), Eastern Illinois (Sept. 6) and Dayton (Sept. 8). The Bisons defeated Belmont, 3-1, and Eastern Illinois, 3-1, before falling to Dayton, 2-0.
Leading the Bisons in scoring is junior Omar Djabi (4), sophomore Josue Chavez (1) and junior Luke Gearin (1), while the team has collectively made 37 attempts. Freshman goalkeeper Micah Bledsoe has started all three matches for Lipscomb and has made six saves, with a 1.33 GAA.
After competing in two games this season, Belmont is 1-1-0 after a 3-1 loss to Lipscomb (Aug. 30) and a 2-1 overtime win against Missouri State (Sept. 7). The Bruins are scheduled to take on Cleveland State on Friday prior to their Sunday match with the Flames.
Belmont freshman AJ Arnold has two of the Bruins’ three goals this season, with sophomore Nicolas Ricard netting the other and the team making 18 shot attempts. Freshman goalkeeper Grayson Rector has made 10 saves overall, while allowing four goals for a 1.92 GAA.
"Both of the teams are good programs from the south," Phillips added. "Lipscomb only has one loss on the season at Dayton, which is always a very tough program. Belmont has been a team that's been on the rise, and we expect another very tough challenge on Sunday."