Cincinnati Tops Cleveland State in Home Opener

Cincinnati Tops Cleveland State in Home Opener

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State University men's soccer team opened the home portion of its 2018 schedule Friday evening by dropping a 2-0 decision to Cincinnati at a pleasant Krenzler Field.

The Vikings had advantages in shots (18-13) and corner kicks (4-2) but were unable to take their chances efficiently and came up on the wrong end of the score line.

Senior Gianluca DiFranco took a team-high four shots, two of which were on frame, while redshirt freshman Alex Gyerman made six saves in his second straight start.

Head coach Kirk Harwat made three changes from last time out, giving junior Lawrence Karpeh his first start of the season while sophomore Ben Hryszko made his season debut after missing time early on recovering from an injury. Redshirt senior Brent Nanchoff was reinserted into the starting XI after coming off the bench last time out.

The Bearcats used goals within the opening 10 minutes of both halves to claim the win.

Fewer than 90 seconds into the match, junior Vlad Jandric played a fine ball forward for DiFranco, but the linesmen's flag was raised much to the dismay of the CSU bench.

Senior Noah Pio took the first shot of the match in the sixth minute, but it was the Bearcats that soon scored.

With some of their first touches in the final third, Cincinnati played a free kick from near the corner flag. The Vikings were unable to clear as the ball bounced laterally in the box, and UC was able to knock it inside the right post.

Gyerman would come up with a pair of big saves later in the half to keep the margin at one for the time being.

In the 31st minute, he made a diving save outstretched to his left far post, pushing the rebound out of play. Fewer than three minutes later, the Bearcats were gifted a true breakaway in on goal, but Gyerman came out and made a huge save on the lone attacker.

Karpeh was involved in a pair of good Viking chances in the final five minutes of the opening stanza. In the 41st minute, freshman Saahb Kular played a nice ball over the top that Karpeh carried into the box. He went down from contact within the area, but no foul was called.

Nearly everyone associated with CSU thought the Vikings had tied the match in the 44th minute when Karpeh ripped a left-footed shot toward the far post. His effort nailed the crossbar and rebounded down toward the goal line, but the ball was ruled not to have crossed.

The Vikings had another great chance not long after halftime due to some wonderful soccer. No fewer than a dozen passes made by seven different Vikings, included nifty work by Jandric and Karpeh, led to Pio playing a diagonal ball that DiFranco could run onto into the box on the right wing. With the goalie coming out to cut down the angle, DiFranco was unable to slot it past the keeper.

Cincinnati made CSU's comeback effort much tougher in the 55th minute when it added an insurance tally. The Bearcats won a tackle in the defensive half and saw the ball deflect forward into the path of a Cincinnati player. He dribbled ahead and played a nice ball into the path of a teammate in the box, who had a simple finish.

The Vikings still looked capable of making a comeback attempt as they kept producing worries for the Bearcats. In the 63rd minute, Karpeh played a dangerous low cross from the left wing, near the touch line, which went all the way across the face of goal, but Jandric's boot just missed guiding it into an open net. Jandric himself nearly scored a few minutes later when the keeper got a piece of his shot, but the ball continued on and clanged off the crossbar.

Pio did well to slip a pass into the box to junior Hayden Parente in the 72nd minute, but Parente didn't have quite enough of an angle to work with as his shot went wide. His effort was one of 10 by CSU in the second 45 minutes, but the Vikings were unable to crack the scoring column.

Parente, an offseason transfer, made his CSU debut by coming off the bench in the second half.

Cleveland State will remain at home next Saturday, Sept. 8, as it opens Horizon League play by hosting defending regular-season champion Green Bay.