Men’s soccer dominated by UIC


Sophie Hume

Defender Kieran Hayes goes for a header.

Aggression. That’s the only word that can properly describe the fast-paced affair between the Golden Grizzlies and University of Illinois-Chicago Flames. 

Players colliding with each other, physical tackles and frequent head-butting during dual headers — they left every last drop of blood, sweat and tears on the pitch during this game. It really shows as both teams had players who were banged up and bruised after the game. 

During the opening minutes of the first half, the teams played a very even match. The energy was high and the physicality continued to increase as each team looked to score the opening goal. The Flames were a little too pumped up, however, accruing 9 of their 11 fouls during the first half. 

Offensively, both teams tried their hardest to get past the walls each defensive unit put up. Defensively, both teams locked in and aggressively shut down any advancements towards the goal until UIC’s Nkusuwila Zulu broke through and scored the first goal of the game. 

After the first goal, Oakland collected themselves and tried to lock back in defensively. Continuous back and forth rallies on the pitch resulted in an intense moment where Golden Grizzlies goalie Alessio Carbone got two of his six saves in a row in the face of an aggressive push from UIC. 

After clearing the ball and some more back and forth play, UIC’s Josh Torres would then score an absolutely electric goal on the back of a two-on-three drive. The Golden Grizzlies, who had started out hot defensively, gave up two unanswered goals in the first half and spent the rest of the half trying to get back into the game. 

At the start of the second half, both teams came out and kept up the aggressive, breakneck pace by going from end to end of the field in the first 70 seconds of the half. The dynamic duo of Torres and Zulu would stay a thorn in the side of the Grizzlies, keeping up their aggression and making everything harder for both the offense and defense of their opponents. 

There were lots of great build-up plays coming from the Grizzlies as they used their dynamic passing and speed to continuously get in deep near the goal, but none of them paid off as they were all stopped by the Flames’ defense. The Golden Grizzlies didn’t sacrifice any of their defensive effort, however, as every member of the team did their absolute best to keep the gap from widening any further. 

Unfortunately, their efforts were all for naught as UIC would tighten their defensive clamps, build walls in front of the goal and keep the Grizzlies out of the game to secure their 2-0 win in this physical, defensive stalemate of a match. 

Overall, both teams played a great game out there on the pitch. UIC found more seams and holes in the Golden Grizzlies’ tight defense and made the most of the opportunities they found while every bit of daylight found by the Grizzlies was quickly shut down by the Flames’ defensive efforts. 

The Golden Grizzlies will return to the pitch to face Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on Sept. 29.