CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Cleveland State University men's soccer team allowed goals early and late in the first half in dropping a 2-1 decision at Xavier at a comfortable XU Soccer Complex Tuesday evening.
Sophomore Vlad Jandric had scored his first career goal to equalize the match, but a set-piece goal with under three minutes to play in the opening half proved to be the game winner.
Xavier, which extended its current unbeaten streak to five matches, won for just the second time in 11 tries against Cleveland State.
The Musketeers took control of the match early with a goal in the third minute. After a cross was intercepted by the CSU defense, the Vikings were unable to successfully clear the ball far enough from danger. Josh Grant wound up on a bouncing ball just inside the box and one-timed it into the upper corner.
After a slow start that saw CSU under pressure, the Vikings began to up their play and soon were on the attacking foot.
In the 23rd minute, senior co-captain Alec Nagucki hit a shot from outside the area that forced a leaping save from the Musketeer keeper. About two minutes later, fellow co-captain Hesham Hammouda used a sequence of clever footwork to escape multiple defenders. He shot from near the top of the box did not have quite enough on it to elude the goaltender.
CSU's improved play would pay dividends as the Vikings would even the match in the 34th minute. After a spurt of possession of over a half-minute, redshirt junior Madifing Conde played a long ball forward from his own half. Sophomore Gabriel Pewu won a header, directing the ball centrally. Jandric was able to win the ball in a cluster of defenders, dribbled into the area before sending a shot into the lower left corner from 16 yards out.
With it appearing that the match would enter halftime tied with the momentum in CSU's corner, Xavier turned the tables. A header off a corner kick with under three minutes to play in the stanza put the hosts back on top.
Conde won a header on a low cross in his own box in the 50th minute to help spring a Cleveland State counter. The Vikings' final pass was lacking in the offensive third. Two minutes later, a spell of possession for Cleveland State sent a cross into the box, but a header from Pewu sailed high.
Sophomore Sebastian Kalk made some key stops in the second half to keep the Vikings in the match. He tallied stops in the 54th minute, off a corner kick chance, and in the 61st minute, the first a great reactionary save while the second was an outstretched dive.
Xavier appeared content to play safe as the second half wore on, and quality chances for either team were few and far between in the game's later stages.
With about three minutes to play, redshirt junior Brent Nanchoff played a free kick from 45 yards out on the ground to a teammate. After rushing forward, he received a pass back and ripped a shot, but the effort was blocked away by the Xavier defense.
Cleveland State kept Xavier under its season averages in goals, shots, shots on goal and corner kicks. The Musketeers entered the match second nationally in corner kicks, averaging close to 10 per game, but CSU held the hosts to only five on the evening.
After playing five consecutive matches on the road, CSU finally returns home as it hosts Northern Kentucky in Horizon League action this Saturday, Sept. 16, at 7:00 p.m.