Flames Hit the Road to Take on Wright State in HL Opener|
Sept. 21, 2012
CHICAGO - The UIC men's soccer team will lift the lid on the Horizon League slate Saturday, when the Flames travel to Dayton, Ohio to take on Wright State, the League's preseason favorite, beginning at 6 p.m. CST. The Flames are entering the most grueling stretch of the 2012 schedule, with six-of their next eight matches on the road.
"We were able to get a win and a tie last weekend after two hard matches last week, and we needed to get our health back on Monday and Tuesday of this week," said head coach Sean Phillips. "We were able to put some good work in on Wednesday and Thursday, and we're excited to open our Horizon League season. Our guys are going to have a great challenge in front of them; Wright State is a program on the rise. They have another infusion of great, youthful talent, and they were picked at the top of the table this year for a reason."
The Flames (2-4-1) are coming off an unbeaten showing in last weekend's UIC Soccer Classic at Flames Field. UIC battled IUPUI to a 2-2 draw last Friday, before shutting out Western Illinois, 1-0, in Sunday's tournament finale. Senior midfielder Ivan Stanisavljevic, the 2011 Horizon League Offensive Player of the Year, enters Saturday's game as the Flames' leading scorer, with three goals and two assists.
Junior forward Ned Pavlovic and freshman midfielder Joel Salmeron have each added two goals to aid in UIC's offensive attack. Junior goalkeeper Piotr Kikolski has started all seven matches in between the posts. The Flames' backline anchors of junior Zach Kaleta and redshirt freshman Thomas Villamil were both named to last weekend's All-Tournament Team, after helping Kikolski preserve his second shutout of the season.
Wright State enters Horizon League play with a 2-6 record on the season, including a 2-1, double-overtime loss against visiting Western Michigan Tuesday night. The Raiders are being led in scoring by junior midfielder Derek Zuniga, who has totaled two goals and three assists this season. Brett Elder and Emeka Ononye have each scored two goals as well. WSU's primary goalkeeper is junior Jacob Bye, who enters Saturday's match with a 1.30 goals-against-average, one shutout and a save percentage of .795.
In 2011, Wright State was picked last in the preseason poll before putting forth a second-place effort in the regular season and finishing as finalists in the League tournament. In 2012, 10 starters return from that team.
UIC has recorded two-straight shutout wins over Wright State, including a 2-0 result at Flames Field last season (10/26/11). Eric Frazier and Stanisavljevic hooked up twice in the final seven minutes, with each scoring a goal and providing an assist to seal the victory for the Flames. Kikolski turned away four shots by the Raiders, securing his third shutout of the 2011 campaign.