CLEVELAND, Ohio – Fewer than 48 hours after winning on the road at Horizon League favorite Oakland, the Cleveland State University men's soccer team returned home and took down Patriot League favorite Loyola (Md.), 2-1, on a partly cloudy Monday evening at Krenzler Field.
Senior co-captain Hesham Hammouda and redshirt junior Madifing Conde scored goals on either side of halftime to stake the hosts to a 2-0 edge. After allowing an own goal, CSU was able to weather increased Loyola pressure to see out the victory in the first-ever meeting between the programs.
"I am extremely proud of the group tonight as they showed tremendous character having to play two matches in three days," head coach Kirk Harwat said. "We used almost our entire squad tonight, and it was a complete team effort. Loyola Maryland is a very good team, so it was another strong test, and our guys found a way to get the win. It's now time to turn our focus to Belmont as we have a crucial Horizon League match at home on Saturday night."
With a short turnaround and with his opponent having a longer rest window leading into the match, Harwat made seven changes to the starting XI from the side that defeated Oakland two nights earlier. Redshirt junior Brent Nanchoff and freshman Ben Hryszko each made his first start of the season Monday, the former in central midfield and the latter at right back.
Freshman Zack Kluever had the first shot of the match in the 13th minute, but his header was wide of the frame. Two minutes later, Hryszko tracked back nicely to tackle the ball away from a Greyhound to prevent a building chance.
The middle five minutes of the half featured chances for both sides.
Junior Gianluca DiFranco was able to dribble through a couple defenders and reach the edge of the box before the last defender was able to clear. Loyola then got a nice cross in from the right flank, but a header toward the back post found no one home. Immediately, CSU went the other way, as sophomore Lawrence Karpeh took a shot from a tighter angle well inside the box that the keeper was able to push wide into the side netting. Soon thereafter, Loyola played a ball over the top, and sophomore Sebastian Kalk did well for CSU to come out and make a key stop with his legs from close range.
CSU got a few more crosses in, but one was shot wide, and the Loyola keeper eventually claimed another after coming a long way out.
Loyola had its best spell of the match as the first half was drawing to a close, but CSU would hold its own before grabbing a goal off a set piece. First, Kalk made a save in the 44th minute by going down to his right to grab a low shot destined for the far post.
In the final minute of the first half, sophomore Vlad Jandric earned a foul dribbling laterally toward the 18-yard box. Nanchoff took the ensuing free kick, whipping in a left-footed ball that Conde flicked with his head high into the netting.
Harwat made a number of changes at the intermission, as he looked to introduce more fresh legs on the warm evening.
The Vikings got an all-important second goal in the 59th minute. Jandric passed to Pio right on the edge of the center circle. Pio played a long ball down the left flank that junior Antonio Burgoa ran onto. Burgoa dribbled into the box and played a low cross across the face of goal, and Hammouda got there first to tap into the net.
Loyola got one back in the 65th minute on one of the weirder goals in recent memory. A ball played over the top of the CSU defense resulted in a great chance for the guests, but Kalk came out to make a key save. A CSU defender then tried to clear the ball into touch, but the backspin on the touch actually resulted in the ball finding its way into the goal.
Cleveland State almost got another insurance goal in the 72nd minute. After a couple CSU shots were dealt with, the hosts had Loyola scrambling, and Hammouda's shot from the top of the box beat the keeper but sailed a little wide.
Loyola possessed for much of the final 15 minutes, but it was only able to generate one shot wide of the frame and one corner kick, as CSU defended with numbers to see out the win.
The Vikings had a 13-8 advantage in shots for the match and only allowed a single corner kick.
Conde's goal was his first with CSU and also marked the second straight match a defender had a point for the Vikings. Hammouda's goal was his first of the season and eighth of his career.
Nanchoff's assist was his team-leading third while Burgoa got his second assist in as many matches. Pio tallied his first assist of 2017, and third with CSU, to reach five points on the year.
The Vikings are now 5-0-1 in their past six home matches and have given up two goals in that stretch.
With its home non-conference schedule complete, CSU will return to action this Saturday, Sept. 30, when it hosts Belmont at 7:00 p.m.