Men’s soccer holds Michigan State scoreless in tie

Mens soccer vs MSU

Freshman Jose Fuentes moves the ball against Michigan State. Photo: Timothy Nguyen/UIC News

The No. 24 UIC men’s soccer team (2-0-1) fought until the end Saturday to hold off No. 7 Michigan State (2-0-1) through 90 minutes of play and two overtime periods before a 0-0 draw was decided. The Flames outshot the Spartans, 11-9, with sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Putna making three saves and registering his second shutout of the season.

The tie marks the first double overtime scoreless draw for UIC since receiving the same result against Butler in 2011.

“It was an excellent performance today by both teams on the field,” head coach Sean Phillips said. “You see why Michigan State has been in multiple rounds of the NCAA Tournament the last several years. They are very good, very strong, mature and we knew going in that it was going to be a big test for our guys to see where we are at this point.”

“The defending today was pretty good all across the board. There were not a lot of chances from the run of play or from their set pieces. They are an excellent set piece team and while they had some chances, we dealt with them and in a good way, which was one of the big challenges for us coming in.”

The Flames took four shots in the first half of play with three coming from junior Jorge Alvarez and the other registering as the only shot on goal of the game for UIC by freshman Elias El Metennani in the final minute. Michigan State had four shots and two on goal, with a team save coming in the 19th minute and Putna making a big stop on a shot taken in front by Fatai Alashe.

UIC made five attempts to the Spartans’ two in the second half, with its first coming in the 51st minute when freshman Jose Fuentes took one of the Flames’ six corner kicks and sophomore Kyle Hamann shot the ball, which was blocked by a MSU defender and then saved by goalie Zach Bennett. Freshman Sergio Fuentes, J. Fuentes and senior Jesus Torres each had chances, with Torres taking the final shot of the half that sailed just over the crossbar.

In overtime, five shots were taken, three from Michigan State and two from the Flames, but nothing came from the attempts as the final horn sounded.

“The attack for us today was a little stagnant and I think a lot of that has to do with the credit of their two center backs and back of midfield. They are all Big Ten caliber guys and I felt our guys were challenged. I am confident that our attacking group is going to continue to create chances and they are going to find a way when we play on Monday night against Drake to punch in a couple of goals.”

Putna made three saves on the day for the Flames, bringing his season total to 12, while he picked up his second shutout and improved to a 0.62 goals-against average. Bennett made one save for the Spartans and received his third shutout of the season.

Because Friday’s game was postponed to Saturday due to weather, the Flames match scheduled for Sunday against Drake was moved to Monday at 7 p.m. at the Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines, Iowa.

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