CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State University men's soccer team dropped a 2-1 decision to visiting Green Bay in each team's Horizon League opener Saturday evening at a cool, and sometimes wet, Krenzler Field.
CSU owned a 12-5 advantage in shots over the Phoenix, the defending regular-season champions.
Senior Noah Pio scored his first of the season in the setback and has points in each of his three career matches against GB.
Junior Gabriel Pewu was reinserted into the starting XI in a center forward role Saturday after coming off the bench last time out.
The Vikings dominated the opening 45 minutes but were left level at the intermission.
In the opening minute of play, CSU had the first shot on goal. Redshirt senior Brent Nanchoff whipped a cross to the far post that Pewu headed back across goal, but the keeper's position was correct and he grabbed it.
The Vikings then dealt with three successive Phoenix corners before GB had one of its best chances in the match. In the sixth minute, a ball over the top left an attacker with a decent look at goal from an angle, but the shot was pulled wide.
The match took an unfortunate turn for the Vikings in the 23rd minute when starting center back Saahb Kular was forced to depart the match with an injury.
It didn't take long for the modified back line to come into play. In the 33rd minute, the Vikings attempted to clear a cross by the Phoenix, but the clearance attempt redirected off a CSU defender and back into their own net.
The Vikings immediately responded, tying the match with the next shot.
Pio placed a free kick from about 22 yards, slightly left of center, over the wall and into the lower left corner.
CSU had an 8-1 lead in shots in the opening half to no avail.
The Vikings had a couple of decent chances in the opening five minutes of the second half. True freshman Jannis Schmidt slipped Pio into the box on the left with a nice ball. Pio then played a dangerous ball across the face of goal, but no Viking was able to get on the end of it.
A couple minutes later, sophomore Zack Kluever, making his season debut, followed his own shot and tried to blast one home from a tight angle, but a Phoenix defender cleared the ball off the line and out of play.
In the 52nd minute, Green Bay won a tackle in the offensive half and the ball rebounded into the box. Joey Bourgeois picked up the loose ball and slotted a low shot to the far post to put GB back on top.
Pio had another free kick less than a minute after the goal from a not too dissimilar position as his first, but this one sailed over the bar.
After getting the lead a second time, Green Bay was not about to lose it again as it did well to defend the Viking attack.
With under two minutes to play, Pio took a corner from the left flag, playing it to the far post. Junior Vlad Jandric headed it back across the box where Pewu tried to get on the end of it. Pewu was taken down in the area, but the referee waved it away, leaving the Vikings furious and ensuring that Green Bay would remain unbeaten on the season.
Pio has scored or assisted on CSU's last eight goals in League matches. He has points in eight of the last 16 overall matches.
Cleveland State has outshot its opponent in three of its four matches to date.
CSU will resume action next weekend with its League road opener at Milwaukee Saturday, Sept. 15.