By Cory Linsner
The Cleveland State University men’s soccer team has hit the pitch for the start to their 2019 campaign. This season, the team is under new leadership as Sinisa Ubiparipovic comes in to lead the team. Ubiparipovic was promoted to head coach after being an assistant coach last season and the acting head coach for the spring season. This year, the Vikings look to improve upon a 4-8-3 record from a year ago.
The 2019 campaign opened in Louisville, Kentucky for a match against the 14th-ranked Louisville University Cardinals. After falling behind 2-0 going into halftime, the Vikings started their comeback with a goal in the 73rd minute from sophomore Jannis Schmidt and the equalizer in the 83rd minute by senior Gabe Pewu. The game concluded in a 2-2 draw after two scoreless overtime periods. This was a promising open to the season by drawing with a nationally-ranked program.
Next up for the Vikings was a meeting with Robert Morris University. This was the first regular season game at Krenzler Field, and the team did not disappoint. The Vikings looked great from start to finish, taking the momentum from the beginning of the game and scoring three goals in the first period. Senior Lawrence Karpeh got things started with a goal in the 10th minute. Pewu followed his teammates lead with a goal of his own in the 31st minute, and junior Thomas M’Barek was able to find the back of the net just before halftime to make it a 3-0 lead. Senior Vlad Jandric scored the only goal in the second period, as the Vikings defeated the Colonials 4-0 to push their record to 1-0-1.
After the win, it was time for the team to go on the road, but things didn’t go as planned. The conference opener was against Oakland University, and it was a barn burner, as both teams were scoreless late in the second period. However, the Golden Grizzlies were able to prevail 1-0 thanks to a goal in the 81st minute. The same score followed the Vikings on a trip to Bowling Green State University, dropping them to 1-2-1 on the season.
After the pair of losses, the team returned home, playing host to Northern Kentucky University. Back at Krenzler, Cleveland State was ready to turn the tide back in the winning direction. It did not start that way as the Norse scored a goal in the 60th minute to take a 1-0 lead. The Vikings would not score until the 86th minute when senior Thomas Bielanski buried the equalizer. The two teams were unable to score late, and it sent the game into overtime. While in the extra period, Pewu was able to get the Vikings the lead and the win, thanks to his golden goal in the 100th minute, which pushed the teams record to 2-2-1.
The remainder of the schedule features a strong mix of tough non-conference matches and key Horizon League opponents for Cleveland State. Taking this momentum and using it to capitalize further will be key if the Vikings plan to improve upon their 2018 record.
Among the remaining games on the schedule include games against the University of Illinois-Chicago, the defending Horizon League Champions, and against the University of Akron, who are the defending national runners-up.
The Vikings will take their 2-2-1 record into a home conference game next weekend versus the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.