Men’s soccer protects unbeaten Horizon League record

UIC Flames men's soccer Manny Chavez

Manny Chavez helped the Flames keep their unbeaten Horizon League record against Detroit. Photo: Steve Woltmann

The men’s soccer team (6-4-3, 3-0-2 Horizon League) kept its unbeaten Horizon League record intact Saturday as it battled to a double-overtime 2-2 draw with Detroit (3-2-8, 0-0-5 Horizon League) at Titan Field. The Flames held a 2-0 lead with goals from Manny Chavez and Thomas Villamil, but gave up a pair of tallies to the Titans in the second half.

The Flames have a week away from competition before resuming play at 7 p.m. Saturday against Oakland at Flames Field.

“Disappointing to be in a place to get three points but not manage the deserved two-goal lead today,” said head coach Sean Phillips after Saturday’s game.

UIC held the upper hand in shots, 25-13, as it recorded its second 20-plus shot performance this season and established a season high with 12 shots on goal. Chavez and Jorge Alvarez each had six attempts to lead all players. Chavez had a career-high four on goal, followed by Alvarez and Villamil with two each.

After Detroit forced two saves in the first five minutes, UIC put the pressure on and maintained possession the remainder of the first half. The Flames had 11 shots with five reaching on goal and held the Titans to two shots after their initial attempts.

In the 22nd minute, Chavez came up with a header that was stopped, but he stayed with the rebound and put it in the back of the net for his fourth goal of the year. With the goal, Chavez has at least one point in each of UIC’s five Horizon League matches for a total of eight points.

The Flames had additional looks in the half come from Alvarez, who had UIC’s first three shots, Max Todd, Jose Fuentes and Nestor Garcia. The attempts either came just off target or were stopped.

The second half was a back-and-forth attack, with Detroit responding from its play in the first 45. The Flames ripped off another 11 shots and had six on goal, with the Titans putting up seven attempts.

Five minutes in, the Flames were set up with a free kick that was sent in by Todd and tapped from Joel Leon to Villamil, who put in his third goal of the year. Leon had his own chance six minutes later but was stopped.

Detroit responded in the 61st minute on its second shot of the half as a throw-in was headed to Don Nakashima, who connected with his own header to bring the Titans within one. Following a pair of shots on goal, Spiro Pliakos shot the ball from distance and scored in the 74th minute to even the score at 2-2.

“Detroit, to their credit, kept fighting at 2-0 and started winning those second balls and creating a lot of pressure that we have to deal with better going forward,” Phillips said.

After three shots came off target, UIC had three attempts in a three-minute span from Villamil and Chavez (2) that all came as near chances resulting in saves. Todd had a shot on goal in the 88th minute that set up a corner kick before Garcia had a shot blocked and sent high in a last-chance effort.

Overtime showcased a combined five shots, with UIC taking three attempts. Alvarez sent a chance wide in the first 10 minutes and Marco Alvarez picked up the final tallies as he had a shot saved in the 103rd minute and another sent wide.

Andrew Putna made five saves for a total of 41 stops on the year as the two goals allowed moves him to a 0.94 goals-against-average.

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