FAIRBORN, Ohio - The Cleveland State University men's soccer team provided its best performance of the season in its biggest match to date, as the Vikings posted a 4-0 victory at fourth-seeded Wright State in the first Horizon League quarterfinal Monday evening at a chilly Alumni Field.
With the win, the Vikings advance to the Horizon League semifinals where they will face semifinal host UIC Thursday, Nov. 9, at 8:00 p.m. ET. It is the fourth time in the past six seasons that the Vikings have reached the semifinals, tied for the most in the League in that span.
CSU got contributions from up and down the lineup in registering the program's largest margin of victory in HL Tournament history. Six different Vikings got on the scoresheet while sophomore Sebastian Kalk also made a huge impact by saving a penalty kick.
Sophomore Vlad Jandric, juniors Jordan Ianiro and Noah Pio and sophomore Lawrence Karpeh scored for CSU while freshman Ben Hryszko and senior Kareem Banton assisted on the first two strikes.
Cleveland State set a season high in goals while posting its first four-goal win, regular season or postseason, since 2012. It is the second time this season that the Vikings won against a League foe on the road by at least three goals.
Neither side had a great look at goal in the early going, as three of the first four shots in the match were blocked before reaching the frame. Kalk made a pretty comfortable save in the 12th minute and did well to not allow a rebound of a shot in the 27th minute to the far post.
In the 32nd minute, Wright State had a header go a little bit wide of the post on a service from the right flank. CSU would score on a similar play fewer than 10 minutes later.
After possessing the ball for some time, junior Gianluca DiFranco beat a Raider defender before laying off to junior Antonio Burgoa. Burgoa played wide to the right flank where Hryszko played a first-time cross into the box, which Jandric headed beautifully into the side netting.
After taking the lead at the interval, the Vikings came out firing in the second half. Jandric earned a free kick just outside the box fewer than two minutes into the stanza. After the ensuing shot was tipped over the bar by the goalie, Banton played the corner kick to the far post, where Ianiro tapped home past the keeper.
A few minutes later, it looked like the tide of the match was turning to the hosts when they were awarded a penalty kick. However, Kalk made a huge save of the shot, diving to his left to keep the multi-goal edge.
CSU took much of the remaining drama out of the proceedings just a few minutes later. In the 56th minute, an initial through ball by the Vikings was knocked away, but not controlled, by the Raider defense. Pio picked the loose ball, dribbled forward into the box and delivered a quality strike to the far post.
In the 78th minute, the Vikings tacked on their final tally with class. Karpeh played the ball to senior co-captain Hesham Hammouda near the sideline. Hammouda made a nifty back heel pass to an onrushing Karpeh that played him into space down the line. He dribbled into the box, before using a fine spin move to beat a defender and shooting high to the far post.
Jandric's tally was his fifth in seven starts as an attacking midfielder this season while Hryszko's assist was his first collegiate point.
After waiting nearly three seasons for his first collegiate goal, Ianiro scored for the second straight match. Banton had an assist for the second straight match and tallied a point for the third consecutive outing.
Pio now has at least a point in three straight matches and seven of the past 11. He has scored or assisted on seven of CSU's last 10 goals against League foes. Karpeh has points in three of the past four matches and has scored in two of the last three.
Cleveland State tied the largest margin of victory in a Horizon League Tournament match since 2002. The Vikings scored four goals in a League Tournament contest for the first time since 2002.
CSU has now allowed just eight goals from the run of play in its last 15 matches.
Kalk's shutout was his third of the season and seventh of his career.
Monday's match improved CSU to 3-0-0 in League Tournament meetings with Wright State.
With its first postseason match in the rearview mirror, Cleveland State will look to continue its run against the defending tournament champion UIC.