Men’s soccer comes out ahead against Wright State

Manny Chavez

Manny Chavez scored the game-winning goal in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Wright State. The Flames head to Kentucky next. Photo: Joseph Oliver

The men’s soccer team (5-3-2, 2-0-1 HL) heads south to Kentucky after coming out on the winning side of a 2-1 battle against Wright State last weekend.

After a week off, the Flames travel to Highland Heights, Kentucky, Saturday to face new Horizon League member Northern Kentucky.

“We have to continue to look to get better each day before we head down to play at Northern Kentucky, who recently won at Wright State,” said head coach Sean Phillips.

There was no scoring until the second half of the Oct. 3 battle against Wright State at Flames Field. Thomas Villamil and Manny Chavez each put the Flames on the board with the go-ahead goal and the game-winner.

“Today was a tough test and took a very good effort from the entire team,” Phillips said. “Wright State is very talented and deserving of their regional ranking. They are solid in the back with a good goalkeeper and several attacking options who can pose challenges in a number of ways.”

UIC had the best handle on possession throughout the game, attempting 17 shots and keeping Wright State to 10. The Flames had several quality looks and tied for a season high as nine of their chances reached on goal. Jorge Alvarez led with four shots, followed by Joel Leon, Jose Fuentes and Max Todd with three each. Alvarez, Leon and Fuentes all had two shots on target.

It was an aggressive second half as the two teams combined for 24 fouls. Seven minutes after halftime, a sequence of a corner kick and two headers put the Flames up 1-0. Chavez sent in the kick and connected with Kyle Hamann before Villamil headed in his second goal of the year. After a shot from Leon that was saved in the 64th minute, Wright State responded a minute later with the game-tying goal.

“After an even first half, we got out front on a great attacking set piece. Over the course of the season, the guys have shown a commitment in training to improve in this area and it has been starting to show lately,” Phillips said.

In the 73rd minute, Fuentes dribbled down the left side of the field and worked his way into the box as he fired off an attempt that forced the Raiders’ goalkeeper Tyler Blackmer to make a diving save. Chavez was on the rebound as he buried home the eventual game-winning goal and his third of the season.

Goalkeeper Andrew Putna came up with three saves in the game after stopping two shots in the first half. With one goal allowed, his 0.94 goals-against-average this season remains intact.

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