Soccer competes in championship semifinals

Flames men's soccer, goalie Andrew Putna

Andrew Putna is Horizon League Freshman and Goalkeeper of the Year. Photo: Steve Woltmann

The soccer team compete in the Horizon League Championship semifinals Saturday after Cleveland State withdrew from the tournament Friday.

Cleveland State left the tournament after using an ineligible player in its win over Wright State in the quarterfinals. The team was set to play UIC at 4 p.m. today at Flames Field.

The Flames will face Wright State at noon Saturday. Milwaukee will take on Oakland at 3 p.m. Saturday at Flames Field. The winners of both matches advance to the championship match at 2 p.m. Sunday at Flames Field.

“The NCAA soccer playing rules require a player who accumulates five yellow cards to sit out the next game,” Cleveland  State Director of Athletics John Parry said. “We inadvertently failed to follow that protocol. I apologize to all Horizon League members who have been affected by this in the past and future.”

For the first time since 2009, the Flames entered the NSCAA/Continental Tire Rankings at No. 23 after concluding their regular season on a nine-match win streak with a 15-3-0, 7-0-0 HL, record following a 2-1 win over Green Bay Nov. 9.

UIC’s 15 wins set a program record for most during the regular season, while its 7-0-0 conference record marked the most conference wins and the first time UIC had won every conference match.

Ten Flames have accounted for the 32 goals scored this season, with seniors Slobodan Aleksov (9), Bob Novak (3) and Josh Beard (3), junior Jesus Torres (4) and sophomores Jorge Alvarez (4) and Kyle Lindberg (4) collecting three or more.

Aleksov leads the pack in points (21), shots (53) and shots on goal (25), and has four two-goal games this season, while Torres owns the assist category with nine.

Goalkeeper Andrew Putna is having a standout season during his freshman campaign. While starting and playing in all 18 of the Flames regular-season matches, Putna has made 47 saves with a .770 save percentage and allowed just 14 goals for a 0.76 goals against average.

UIC was rewarded for its season accomplishments with a collection of Horizon League accolades. Novak was named Co-Player of the Year, Beard received Defensive Player of the Year, Putna brought in Freshman and Goalkeeper of the Year honors and head coach Sean Phillips picked up Coach of the Year.

Five Flames (Aleksov, Torres, Novak, Beard and Putna) were named to the All-League First Team for the first time in program history, with sophomore Thomas Villamil earning a spot on the Second Team, and Gonzalo Romo and Kyle Hamann taking places alongside Putna on the All-Freshmen Team.

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