Men’s soccer battles to victory in double OT vs. DePaul

Jorge Alvarez with the ball

Jorge Alvarez won the game for the Flames with his goal in the 104th minute Saturday. — Photo: Steve Woltmann

The men’s soccer team (4-2-1) battled back from a 1-0 deficit to a 2-1 victory in double overtime Saturday against DePaul (3-3-1) at Flames Field.

Junior Jorge Alvarez, who was named the Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week, netted the game-winner and his second goal of the match in the 104th minute on a field-length kick from sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Putna.

“The game showed the character that is in this group,” head coach Sean Phillips said. “Losing two games on the road and coming home, we challenged them to respond, fight, compete and, more importantly, find that extra bit of composure in the final third.”

The Flames return to action at 6 p.m. Friday in their first Horizon League match of the season against Oakland in Rochester, Mich.

“Now we have to get ready for the second season,” Phillips said. “Non-conference is over and we go into Horizon League play. I am sure there is a target on our back for how well we played last year and we have to get ready for a tough opponent in Oakland on Friday night.”

The Flames fired off 21 shots in Saturday’s contest, with Alvarez contributing eight and junior Joel Salmeron adding five. They limited the Blue Demons to six attempts on the night.

“Our defense is still our defense,” Phillips said. “It has been very solid and it is going to continue to grow, evolve, get better and become more and more difficult to score goals against.”

UIC took five shots in the first half before DePaul recorded its first attempt in the 32nd minute, saved by Putna. The Flames held off the Blue Demons until the 42nd minute, when Art Garza scored off a pass from Alessandro Thomas to take a 1-0 lead at the half.

In the second half, the Flames came out surging and attempted a season-high 13 shots while DePaul made just two attempts. In the 56th minute, Alvarez scored his first goal of the match, assisted by freshman Sergio Fuentes, to tie the score at 1-1.

For the fourth time this season, UIC headed to overtime. Putna came up with a big save in the 93rd minute on a shot by the Blue Demon’s leading scorer Jalen Harvey.

The highlight of the night came in the second overtime period, when Putna sailed a goal kick the length of the field to Alvarez, who shot the ball past the Blue Demons’ charging goalkeeper for the win.

Not only did Putna make two saves on the night, bringing his season total to 26, but he also registered his first career assist for his first-ever point.

“I was pleased of the way the guys performed in front of the alums tonight. We had a great group come out and I think the current players made the alums proud, which is a big part of building a program.”

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