Soccer grabs fifth-straight win, fourth shutout at tourney
Freshman goalkeeper Andrew Putna was named the league’s player of the week after the men’s soccer team collected its fifth-consecutive win and fourth-straight shutout Sunday at the UIC Soccer Classic at Flames Field.
The Flames defeated IPFW, 4-0, to claim first place at the tournament after defeating nationally ranked Gonzaga, 1-0, on the tournament’s opening day Friday.
Throughout the two matches, Putna made four saves and improved his season goals against average to 0.86.
After seven games this season, the Flames’ 5-2-0 mark is the best start since its 2006 campaign, when the team started with a 5-0-2 record. Next up for the Flames is a 7 p.m. match Saturday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at Korte Stadium in Edwardsville.
Senior Bob Novak, junior Jesus Torres, redshirt-sophomore Thomas Villamil and Putna were named to the All-Tournament team.
IPFW drops to 0-7-1 with the loss. Gonzaga, ranked No. 19 in Soccer America’s Top 25 and No. 24 in TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Top 25, dropped its first match since Aug. 30 and goes to 3-2-0 on the season.
“This weekend, we showed we were able to grind out a tough 1-0 result against Gonzaga and we were still able to get a shutout at 4-0 against IPFW and keep a clean sheet,” head coach Sean Phillips said. “The mistakes are getting fewer and fewer, and the positive play is getting more and more.”
UIC had a strong offensive output from the start of Sunday’s match.
The first shot of the game for the Flames at 9:23 resulted in a goal by Torres off an assist from senior Slobodan Aleksov. Less than six minutes later, Novak started up the play with a pass to Torres, who connected with sophomore Kyle Lindberg for UIC’s second goal. The Flames finished the half with five additional shots, one on a goal shot by Torres that was saved by IPFW.
The Flames did not slow down heading into the second half, as Torres scored his second goal of the game in the 70th minute off a Novak assist, and redshirt-freshman Alex Yeung collected his first goal as a Flame in the 81st minute. UIC added eight more shots in the half, while 10 different players made attempts throughout the game.
From the start of Friday’s game, the Flames and Bulldogs were neck-and-neck in their offensive and defensive zones.
Each team had plenty of opportunities to score, but in the 36th minute, UIC collected the only goal of the game, when Jorge Alvarez dribbled in to the top of the box and shot his third goal of the season past Gonzaga’s senior goalkeeper Ryan Caballero.
The physicality of the match turned up heading into the second half, as UIC and Gonzaga collected 15 fouls each by the end of 90 minutes, with a yellow and red card issued to the Bulldogs as well.
“It was a very intense game,” Phillips said.