CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State University men's soccer team put together its most complete performance of the season to date by collecting a 3-0 victory at Oakland Saturday evening in Horizon League action at an unseasonably warm Oakland Soccer Stadium.
Coming off what proved to be a disappointing draw with Northern Kentucky, the Vikings rallied in a big way by easily defeating the League's preseason favorite.
After tallying his first collegiate goal in CSU's last road tilt, sophomore Vlad Jandric netted a brace for the visitors in Saturday's win. Junior Noah Pio added an insurance goal for Cleveland State.
Head coach Kirk Harwat made four changes to the starting XI from the previous match, introducing three defenders that did not start against the Norse. That also allowed him to move Antonio Burgoa into a forward role, and the junior helped contribute to the attack.
The match got off to a slow start, at least from a shots perspective. Both teams registered two corner kicks in the opening 24 minutes, but neither side could produce a shot, from the corners or the run of play.
That all changed in the 25th minute, and it began when freshman central defender Thomas M'Barek intercepted a long ball played from the Oakland back line. M'Barek immediately hit a bounding long ball of his own up the field. It squeaked between two Oakland defenders, and Jandric made a well-timed run and found himself in alone with the keeper. After taking a touch, his low shot from just outside the box curled just inside the right post.
Pio forced a save from distance less than 90 seconds after CSU took the lead, but it would not add on anymore in the opening half. CSU held Oakland to a single shot in the first half, and it sailed wide of the frame.
Despite owning a 1-0 lead on the road, the Vikings were not content to sit on their lead.
Senior Kareem Banton rattled a free kick off the post in the 59th minute.
Undeterred, sophomore Lawrence Karpeh drew a free kick near the left sideline in the offensive half. Banton took the ensuing free kick, about halfway between the goal and the midfield, and played a high ball toward the back post. Jandric went up for a header, but the Oakland keeper also challenged for it and neither clearly won it. After bouncing in the box, the ball deflected back to Jandric, and he settled quickly and slotted it five-hole on the keeper to finish his brace.
Oakland had a decent look to get one goal back in the 65th minute, but sophomore Sebastian Kalk was on top of his game. He made a fine save to keep the hosts off the board. From tight range, Kalk slid out and was able to reach back with his right hand to grab the shot. He also managed to limit any rebound, which would have likely resulted in a great Oakland chance.
Cleveland State finished off the game for good in the 79th minute, and it started when Banton won the ball from an attacking Oakland player. He played to Hammouda, who soon played a long ball down the left sideline over the top of the defense to an onrushing Burgoa. Burgoa did well to find a fine central run from Pio. Looking calm in the area, Pio settled the ball, switched back to his left foot and curled a shot past the diving keeper inside the left post.
Cleveland State had a 12-7 advantage in shots, but that didn't tell the whole story. Five of Oakland's seven shots came after it fell behind 3-0, as the Vikings outshot the hosts, 11-2, over the first 79 minutes of action.
The Vikings have now allowed one goal from the run of play in their past five matches.
Pio's goal was his second of the season and third of his CSU career.
Cleveland State moves to 2-0-1 in League action this year and is tied for second in the League table in the early going.
CSU will have little time to rest on its laurels as the Vikings open a three-match homestand in less than 48 hours by welcoming Loyola (Md.) this Monday, Sept. 25, at 6:00 p.m.