THE OPENING KICK:
Coming off a long layoff, Cleveland State will open Horizon League play on the road.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
Oakland will be playing at home for the first team in the regular season when it opens Horizon League play this weekend. The Golden Grizzles have defeated Robert Morris (5-1) and Western Illinois (3-1), came from two goals down to tie Bradley (2-2) and suffered their lone setback at Duquesne (0-1). Cameron Wilde tops the team in goals (3) and points (7) while Dylan Borczak has a trio of assists.
HORIZON LEAGUE OPENERS:
Cleveland State is 5-4-1 in its past 10 HL openers … The most recent draw in a HL opener for CSU was a scoreless 2011 affair vs. Valparaiso … The Vikings have won each of their past three HL openers that came on the road (2017 – at IUPUI, 2016 – at Belmont, 2014 – at Milwaukee) … The only prior time that CSU faced the Golden Grizzlies in its HL opener was a 2-1 setback in 2013, Oakland's first season in the league.
AGAINST THIS OPPONENT:
Cleveland State is 8-7-0 all-time against Oakland … The teams have each won three times in their prior Horizon League meetings … Oakland scored three goals in the opening half and held on for a 4-2 win in last year's meeting between the teams … Cleveland State is 2-0-0 in Horizon League matches at Oakland, claiming wins in 2015 and 2017 … The Vikings scored at least three goals in each of those two matches … Vlad Jandric had a brace in the 2017 meeting at Oakland while Gabriel Pewu scored against the Grizzlies last season … The winning team in this series has scored multiple goals in each of the past three matchups and five of the past six overall.
LAST TIME OUT:
Cleveland State cruised to a 4-0 win in its home opener over Robert Morris, scoring three times in the opening half. Four different Vikings—Lawrence Karpeh, Gabriel Pewu, Thomas M'Barek and Vlad Jandric—scored while six distinct players had points as head coach Sinisa Ubiparipovic collected his first win as a collegiate head coach.
Twenty of the 21 outfield Vikings played last time out at Robert Morris. Seven Vikings have now made their NCAA soccer debut this season, six outfield players and goaltender Omeed Naeemy. Naeemy and transfer Andrew Nicholas are the two debutants to start a match thus far this season.
When Cleveland State takes the pitch Saturday at Oakland, it will have been 10 days since the Vikings last competed. This will represent the longest in-season break for the side since it had a 10-day break in September during the 2014 campaign. In that case, the 10 day break immediately followed a trip to California and came in the midst of a seven-match road swing.
ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL:
Trailing 2-0 with under 20 minutes to play in the season opener at Louisville, Cleveland State rallied to earn a result. It was the first time in CSU's last 50 matches that it had rallied from a multi-goal deficit to earn a result. The most recent such occurrence had come at Robert Morris in August 2016. CSU has now come from behind to earn a result at least once in 14 consecutive seasons and has achieved the feat on the road in nine straight seasons.
ALRIGHT AGAINST ACC:
In earning a 2-2 tie against Louisville to open its season, Cleveland State secured a result against an ACC side for the fourth time in the last five seasons. The Vikings took down a pair of Power Five sides last season, notching wins over Ohio State and Pittsburgh.
LEADING THE CHARGE:
Cleveland State is under the direction of first-year head coach Sinisa Ubiparipovic in 2019. Ubiparipovic, who attended high school and college in Northeast Ohio, was elevated after previously serving as the program's top assistant. He appeared in over 200 professional soccer matches, including an even 100 in the Major League Soccer (MLS) ranks with New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact.
- Thomas M'Barek's goal last time out was the first of his collegiate career
- Gabriel Pewu has scored in each of the first two matches
- Jannis Schmidt has a goal and two assists in the opening two matches
- Omeed Naeemy notched his first shutout as a collegian last time out
- The last seven Cleveland State head coaches combined to post a 5-0-2 record in their first game as the Vikings' head coach
- Forty six of Cleveland State's last 67 goals have come in the second half. In fact, 17 of those goals have taken place in the 77th minute or later
PRESEASON FREE KICKS:
- Vlad Jandric and Thomas M'Barek were both selected All-Horizon League Second Team in 2018
- It was the second straight season that Jandric earned all-conference honors
- Cleveland State returns 17 student-athletes from last year's roster, 16 of which competed in a match
- Six Vikings return that started at least 10 matches last season, with five of those six competing in at least 14 of the squad's 15 fixtures in 2018
- CSU has eight newcomers on the roster, four true freshmen and four transfers
- Thomas M'Barek was the only Viking to start all 15 matches last season
- Gabriel Pewu and Jannis Schmidt were the other returning Vikings to play in all 15 fixtures in 2018
- Cleveland State is facing at least one Big Ten opponent for the third straight year and an ACC foe for the fifth time in six seasons
- The Vikings will face four of the top 40 programs from last season's final RPI, including two of the top five
- Cleveland State has earned a top-four seed in the HL Tournament seven times since the league went to a six-team format, which is the highest such figure among its league peers
- Cleveland State won consecutive matches at Ohio State and at Pittsburgh last season, the first time since 1984 the Vikings won back-to-back matches against teams currently in a Power Five conference
- Cleveland State's win at Ohio State last season was its first victory over the Buckeyes since 1996 (though the sides have not played every year since then)
- With a 2-0 win at Ohio State last year, Cleveland State has now shut out a Power Five side in three of the past four seasons and six of the past nine
- The Vikings twice rallied from deficits to claim a 4-3 win at Pitt, scoring the winning goal with under six minutes remaining
- Gabriel Pewu had six goals and an assist in the final 11 matches last season
- Vlad Jandric had a hat trick in last year's 3-1 win over UIC, the first by a Viking since 2013
- The Vikings were only outshot once in Horizon League play last season
- Among the 75 starts made by Vikings on defense or in goal last season: 31 starts were made by true freshman or redshirt freshman, 40 starts were made by sophomores with two starts by a junior and two by a senior
- Ryan Kolonick led all CSU freshmen with 11 starting assignments last season
- Thomas M'Barek was named Academic All-Horizon League in 2018
- Noah Pio has joined the Viking coaching staff as a student assistant after playing for CSU the past three seasons