Men's Soccer Set For Primetime Showdown With Milwaukee

Senior Slobodan Aleksov
Senior Slobodan Aleksov

Oct. 15, 2013

The Last Meeting
October 6, 2012
Milwaukee, Wis.
Flames Comes up Short at Milwaukee in Overtime, 2-1
Senior midfielder Ivan Stanisavljevic scored his fifth goal of the season, but the UIC men's soccer team saw its five-game unbeaten streak come to an end in a 2-1 overtime decision versus Milwaukee at Engelmann Field Saturday night.

CHICAGO – The UIC men’s soccer team will put its unbeaten conference record on the line Wednesday night when it hosts Horizon League-foe Milwaukee at Flames Field at 7 p.m. CT.  In the most recent NSCAA/Continental Tire poll, the Flames and Panthers are tied at ninth in the Great Lakes region.

"When I got to UIC in 2005, this was the big rivalry I had heard about on the soccer field," head coach Sean Phillips said.  "Every single game we have had with them has been tight, well contested, a lot of talent, usually has post-season or Horizon League standing implications on it, and tomorrow night will be no different.  Both programs have had good seasons from the get-go, are sitting well in conference, and bring a very good, attractive style of soccer that should be great game tomorrow night."

UIC (9-3-0, 2-0-0 HL) is returning home after capturing a 2-0 shutout win against Detroit on Oct. 12.  Senior Slobodan Aleksov scored in the 28th minute off a penalty kick, notching his fifth goal of the season, as fellow senior Bob Novak added another goal in the 78th minute off a pass from junior Jesus Torres.

Recently named Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week and to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week, Aleksov leads the Flames with five goals this season, tying for fifth in the League, as well as in shots (36) and shots on goal (18).  Novak, Torres and sophomores Kyle Lindberg and Jorge Alvarez have three goals apiece, while Torres has a conference-leading seven assists for 13 points.

After collecting his seventh shutout of the season, freshman goalkeeper Andrew Putna has made a total of 27 saves for a .750 save percentage.  While playing every minute of all 12 matches, Putna has allowed just nine goals, tying for first in the Horizon League with Milwaukee, and has a 0.74 GAA for second-best in the League.

"In order to have success, you have to have talented players, and this year, I think we have a number of them,” said Phillips.  "Talent without the right mentality doesn't get you very far.   I think the mentality with this group has been right from the get-go, and a lot of that has come down to our senior leadership."

Milwaukee is currently second in the Horizon League rankings with an overall record of 10-1-1 and a 3-1-0 conference record, while it was previously ranked No. 24 in the NSCAA Top 25 poll on Oct. 8.  The Panthers are coming off a 1-0 win against Valparaiso, prior to which they dropped their first match of the season against Green Bay, 2-1, in double overtime to end their undefeated streak.

Through 12 matches this season, Milwaukee leads the League in shots with 225, goals with 26 and assists with 23.  Junior Laurie Bell paces the Panthers with eight goals, a Horizon League best, while nine other Panthers have scored this season, including sophomore Aaron Horvat with five.  Bell additionally leads the team in points (19), shots (60) and SOG (29).

The Panthers’ freshman goalkeeper Liam Anderson has played all 12 matches and has allowed just nine goals, tying with Putna, for a 0.72 GAA.  Anderson has additionally made 42 saves while recording six shutouts.

In the NCAA RPI standings, the Flames are positioned at No. 42, with the Panthers just ahead at No. 36.  In the all-time series, the Panthers hold a slight 17-14-4 edge over the Flames, while the Flames have held the advantage over their last 10 meetings with a record of 8-1-1.

"If our guys continue to bring the right mentality and the right focus to the game tomorrow night, we will put ourselves in a good place to get a result," added Phillips.  "It is going to be a tough match and we are going to have to keep our focus from one moment to the next.  If we can do that, it will come down to which team makes the most number of good plays.