Soccer captures league championship

Men's Soccer team posing for Horizon League championship photoThe men’s soccer team won the 2016 Horizon League Championship on a goal by Oscar Rivero with four minutes remaining versus No. 1 Wright State Saturday, 1-0, at Alumni Field. With the win, the Flames earn the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The Flames take on No. 13 Loyola at 7 p.m. Thursday in the first round. The winner advances to the second round at Notre Dame Sunday.

The tournament title is the fourth for the program (1999, 2000, 2007); the first since 2007, a year when UIC advanced to the Elite Eight; and the first under the direction of head coach Sean Phillips. The Flames will head to the NCAA tournament for the sixth time (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2008).

“To win this game tonight, our guys had to put in a championship effort and that’s exactly what they did,” Phillips said. “We knew Andrew (Putna) and the defense were going to need to step up, and they did. It’s always great to watch seniors play their best soccer in games like this. They were pivotal tonight in helping us get a very well-deserved win. Now we look forward to representing the Horizon League in the NCAA Tournament.”

UIC put together 12 shots in the match and had six come in the final 20 minutes of play. Oscar Gonzalez, who scored the game-winner in the semifinals, led the team with a matched career-high seven attempts, as Rivero (3), Max Todd (1) and Dimitris Stantzalis (1) made up the remaining shots.

Andrew Putna was a difference maker with a season-high six saves.