CHICAGO, Ill. – The Cleveland State University men's soccer team allowed a first-half goal and was unable to mount a comeback, dropping a 1-0 decision to Loyola (Ill.) Monday afternoon on a scorching Monday afternoon at Loyola Soccer Park.
Redshirt freshman Alex Gyerman, one of five Viking rookies to make his collegiate debut Monday, made seven saves against a Loyola team pegged as runners-up in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Head coach Kirk Harwat made four chances to the starting XI from the season opener at Northwestern Friday night. In addition to Gyerman in net, true freshmen Keagan Brown and Jannis Schmidt made their first collegiate starts while junior Thomas Bielanski also joined the first group.
Each team had a great look at goal in the opening 20 minutes as Gyerman was tested with Loyola's first shot. In the seventh minute, a header off a corner kick was whipped on frame, but the rookie leaped to push it over the bar and out of danger.
Junior Gabriel Pewu appeared as though he might put the Vikings on top in the 17th minute when he beat defenders to a through ball and was then taken down by the keeper in the penalty area. However, the assistant referee had signaled for offside.
In the 20th minute, senior Noah Pio was given a brief window on the ball in the final third. His shot from the left wing from outside the box forced a leaping save as his effort nearly got over the keeper.
Loyola would score the game's only goal in the 28th minute. Fabian Becerra dribbled diagonally toward the penalty area, drawing CSU defenders, before slipping the ball ahead to Vasco Cardoso, who had a simple finish low inside the left post from about 13 yards out.
In the final minute of the half, a long free kick fell to freshman Saahb Kular in the box. He switched feet and nailed a shot toward the near post but it was blocked by a Rambler defender at the last instant.
Holding the lead on a hot and humid afternoon, Loyola looked to possess in the second half and make the Vikings chase the game. As a result, some of CSU's best chances in the second 45 came off of set pieces.
With about 15 minutes to play, senior Gianluca DiFranco played a nice ball from a deep wide left position after a foul. The Vikings earned a corner on the play but were unable to convert. Redshirt senior Brent Nanchoff also played a dangerous ball to the back post from a free kick on the right flank, but the goalkeeper was able to get to the ball through bodies.
Cleveland State started three true freshmen and a sophomore on its back line while starting a redshirt freshman in goal.
Cleveland State was called for 22 fouls in the match and was given five of the game's six cards by the referee.
The Vikings will play their 2018 home opener this Friday, Aug. 31, as they welcome Cincinnati at 7:00 p.m.