Drake Suffers 3-1 Setback At UIC
CHICAGO, Ill. - A pair of goals over the game’s final eight minutes sparked UIC (Illinois at Chicago) to a 3-1 men’s soccer victory past Drake (8-7-3) on Sunday (Nov. 3).
“I was proud of our response on the road in a non-conference game at a tough, highly-ranked (RPI) opponent,” Bulldog head coach Sean Holmes commented. “There is a reason that UIC is 14-3 as they are a well-organized team. They have a very distinct difference in their game as their kids are smart, wily players who played with a lot of city toughness and we were a little naïve at times.”
The Flames (14-3) staked themselves to an early 1-0 lead on the strength of Slobodan Aleksov’s team-leading eighth goal of the season at the 27:41 mark.
“We went down 1-0 in the first half on a misdirected shot that deflected and caught us going the wrong way resulting in the goal,” said Holmes. “Other than that, it was a very even first half.”
The two sides battled through a first half that saw UIC maintain a 5-3 advantage in shots, with only one of the eight attempts going on goal.
Drake was dealt a blow in the 53rd minute (52:27) when redshirt junior Jarred Arde (Gulfport, Miss./Gulfport) was issued a red card forcing the Bulldogs to play the remainder of the contest a man down.
“After the red card we came alive and were very dynamic,” Holmes explained. “Playing a man down, as it usually does, gave us a huge infusion of energy and we really fought hard.”
Despite the adversity, Drake evened the affair at one at the 78:31 mark when redshirt junior Logan North (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell North) connected on his first goal of the season off an assist senior Addison Eck (Springfield, Ill./Sacred Heart Griffin).
“Our goal came as a result of Logan (North) attacked near the back and running off a header by Addison (Eck),” said Holmes.
The lead was short-lived as Aris Zafeiratos delivered what proved to be the game-winning tally for the Flames in the 83rd minute (82:30).
Aleksov added his second goal of the afternoon and ninth of the year at the 87:41 mark to finish off a 3-1 victory for UIC.
“We were unlucky to not score a second goal and as it usually happens, the burst of energy wore off and they scored two late goals,” commented Holmes. “We played arguably some of our best soccer of the year in the first half.”
The Flames bettered the Bulldogs in shots, 16-8, including 5-3 on goal. North led Drake with a team-high three shots, while freshman Mueng Sunday (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) added a two-shot effort. A game-high five-shot performance from Aleksov directed the Flames’ attack.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod (Waterloo, Ontario/Resurrection Catholic) collected a pair of saves for Drake. Matching him with two saves for UIC was Andrew Putna.
“Right now I’m most concerned with getting results and how we’re playing,” Holmes explained. “We have found the right combination of players and are on task to be playing our best soccer as we enter MVC Tournament action. We knew this three-game road swing to end the year would be tough, but we feel we're on task to be playing our best soccer."
Holmes offered praise to numerous players for their efforts against UIC.
“Alex (Troester) got the start and responded getting forward as he played the whole game. Mueng (Sunday) was again a dynamo in the midfield and Thomas (Schermoly) and Logan (North) provided quality moments.”
The Bulldogs close out their regular season with a 7:00 p.m. tilt at Central Arkansas on Friday (Nov. 8). By virtue of Bradley’s 1-0 setback on Saturday (Nov. 2), Drake has secured the No. 2 seed at next week’s Missouri Valley Conference Championship to be held in Peoria, Ill. (Nov. 13-17).