UIC soccer star named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List

Jesus Perez was named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List for 2019. Photo: Steve Woltmann

As the UIC men’s soccer team readies for its 2019 season, senior Jesus Perez (Waukegan, Ill.), has been named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List for 2019.

Perez, who was the Horizon League Player of the Year last season and led the NCAA in assists, is one of 36 players under consideration for the trophy, which is presented annually to the top player in the country. The two-time All-Region selection is also on College Soccer News’ preseason All-American Third Team.

The soccer team, which has won the last three Horizon League championships and appeared in three straight NCAA Tournaments, reported to campus recently to begin preparations for the 2019 season.

The team will open the season at the Ohio State Wolstein Classic. UIC will face Dayton August 30, and the Buckeyes September 1. The home slate opens with a September 6 clash against Valparaiso. Additional highlights of the schedule include matches with all three Chicago-area rivals — against whom the Flames went 3-0 last season — a showdown with Western Michigan, and the usual Horizon League gauntlet.

Though the Flames have lost significant firepower to graduation — including Max Todd, the 2019 Horizon League Offensive Player of the Year and the program’s fourth-leading goal scorer of all time — a core of young yet battle-tested returning players will look to fill the gap. Sophomores Josiah Ash and Pau Mateo each scored goals in the Horizon League tournament and were named to the conference’s All-Freshman Team. Alwin Seitz and Eduardo Garcia also logged significant playing time as freshmen. 

Valuable experience and leadership will come from a handful of returning upperclassmen. Redshirt junior Jacob Graiber, last season’s Horizon League Tournament MVP, will anchor the back line. Senior Cristian Sanchez can handle defender and midfielder duties, providing leadership on and off the field. 

Sokratis Vasilas, who took a redshirt last season behind Sawyer Jackman, enters camp as the #1 goalkeeper. He has four starts in his career and earned the win, saving two of the three shots he faced, in the 2017 match at Bradley. 

On the sidelines, Sean Phillips returns for his tenth year as head coach. He has led the Flames to the Horizon League regular season or tournament crown in five of the last six years.