Men's Soccer To Challenge No. 25 Michigan State

Senior Slobodan Aleksov
Senior Slobodan Aleksov

Sept. 30, 2013

The Last Meeting
Michigan State2
September 27, 2011
East Lansing, Mich.
Flames Drop 2-1 Decision at Michigan State
Freshman forward Jesus Torres scored his third goal of the season, but host Michigan State defeated the UIC men's soccer team, 2-1 at the DeMartin Soccer Stadium Tuesday afternoon.

CHICAGO – Following its third road win of the season, the UIC men’s soccer team returns home to Flames Field to host No. 25 Top Drawer Soccer ranked Michigan State in a primetime match Tuesday.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT.

"It's always great to get Michigan State and some of the Big Ten teams on our schedule," head coach Sean Phillips said.  "The ability to schedule that quality of an opponent is a great measuring stick for our team, especially before we start conference play with the difficulty of the Horizon League."

The Flames are coming off their fifth shutout of the season and sixth-straight win after defeating Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 1-0, Sept. 28 at Korte Stadium in Edwardsville, Ill.  The lone goal of the game, scored by senior Bob Novak in the fourth minute, was all the Flames needed to take their third-consecutive win over the Cougars.

After playing eight games this season, UIC has scored 15 goals, collected 13 assists and made 84 shot attempts with 43 on goal.  Sophomore Jorge Alvarez leads in all categories with three goals, four assists and 15 shots, including seven on goal, for a season-total 10 points.  Freshman Andrew Putna has made 16 saves through eight games, while earning the five shutouts.  Against the opposition, Putna has allowed just six goals for a 0.75 GAA, the second best in the Horizon League.

Michigan State, currently ranked No. 25 by Top Drawer Soccer, heads to Flames Field with a 5-1-1 record, having gone 3-0-1 in its last four games.  All five of its wins have been shutouts against Western Michigan (4-0), Oregon State (1-0), Marquette (2-0), Bowling Green (1-0) and Northern Illinois (2-0), while it tied Creighton (2-2) in double overtime on Sept. 24 and took its lone loss of the season on Sept 8 against Valparaiso (2-1).

Through seven games this season, the Spartans have scored 13 goals by nine different players, while redshirt-junior Tim Kreutz leads with three, followed by sophomore Sean Conerty and redshirt-senior Kevin Cope with two apiece.  Sophomore goalkeeper Zach Bennett has started and played all seven games, while making 28 saves and allowing four goals for a 0.55 GAA.

"Michigan State is going to bring a complete challenge to us," Phillips added.  "They have clever, attacking players that can beat you from the run of play, whether it's through possession and combination play, and they also have some weapons where they can be a bit more direct."

"I think right before we go into conference play on Saturday, this will be the best test to date of an opponent that can have success, either through the run of play or set pieces.  It will be a great challenge for our guys, and I am looking forward to seeing how our team is continuing to progress in these areas."

Since 1956, UIC and Michigan State have met 20 times, with Michigan State holding the all-time series, 14-3-3.  The Spartans captured a 2-1 win in 2011 and tied in 2009, but during the NCAA Second Round in 2008, the two teams tied again and the Flames advanced after a penalty kick shootout.  UIC’s last regular-season win dates back to 1998, when it defeated Michigan State, 3-2.