THE OPENING KICK
Cleveland State hosts its Horizon League home opener against a Norse side also looking for their first league win.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
Northern Kentucky owns a 1-3-1 record on the campaign and is also seeking its first league result. The Norse dropped a 2-1 decision at home to IUPUI, succumbing to an 89th minute winning goal. NKU's win came at Canisius (2-0) while it also owns a draw against Marshall (1-1). The Norse won 10 matches last season, the most in their Division I era. Sophomore Alex Willis was named All-HL First Team last season after scoring 16 goals while adding seven assists. He owns a pair of tallies thus far in 2019. Junior Alex Greive was also an all-league pick last season with five goals and 11 assists.
AGAINST THIS OPPONENT:
Cleveland State is still seeking its first win against Northern Kentucky as the Vikings are 0-2-2 all-time against the Norse. Both draws were of the scoreless variety, coming in 2016 and 2017, while both NKU wins were of the 2-1 variety, coming in 2015 and 2018. Senior Hayden Parente notched his first point as a Viking with his 87th minute goal against NKU last year, coming off an assist from Lawrence Karpeh. CSU has outshot NKU in each of the four prior meetings.
LAST TIME OUT:
Cleveland State dropped a 1-0 match at Bowling Green, a side receiving votes nationally in the most recent rankings. The Falcons held a 3-2 edge in shots on target. Vlad Jandric led the Vikings with a trio of shots.
Twenty of the 21 outfield Vikings have played this season. 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.
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.
- Eight Vikings have started all four matches this season
- Thomas M'Barek's goal vs. Robert Morris was the first of his collegiate career
- Gabriel Pewu scored in each of the first two matches
- Jannis Schmidt has a goal and two assists in the two matches he's played
- Omeed Naeemy notched his first shutout as a collegian vs. Robert Morris
- Jannis Schmidt was named HL Offensive Player of the Week Sept. 3
- 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
- The last seven Cleveland State head coaches combined to post a 5-0-2 record in their first game as the Vikings' head coach
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