DePaul 2-1 UIC: Men’s soccer, Ganancio get season off to winning start

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A brace by Thiago Ganancio gave the men’s soccer team a 2-1 win over UIC Friday at Wish Field to open their 2012 season.

“This is a game I’ll always remember,” Ganancio said. “It’s a strong start to the season, but it’s just the first game. It’s amazing, especially against UIC.”

After a slow first half in which few chances were created, Ganancio opened up the scoring for the Blue Demons (1-0) in the 63rd minute thanks in large part to fellow forward David Selvaggi. Selvaggi received a ball from Kyle Gustafson, cut inside past one defender, and played a throughball Ganancio described as “perfect” for him to run onto.

The Brazilian-born sophomore made no mistake on Selvaggi’s ball, running across the face of goal and calmly finishing past UIC keeper Piotr Kikolski to open his account.

The Flames (0-1) equalized just seven minutes later, however, when Zach Kaleta scored on a header from a Ivan Stanisavljevic corner.

“It was a great goal by UIC,” head coach Craig Blazer said. “Good cross, good header, just a good goal all-around. I think we were a bit tired (on the play), but credit to them for the goal.”

UIC started gaining a better foothold in the game following their equalizer, putting up more shots but never really threatening Eric Sorby’s goal.

The game remained deadlocked at one each until Ganancio sprung onto a loose ball in 87th minute to score the winner.

A long ball from Sorby found Zach Forbes down field. Forbes’ flicked header was picked up by the Flames’ backline, but a headed back pass was too soft. Ganancio pounched on the loose ball and poked the ball past Kikolski to complete the brace.

“That felt unbelievable,” said Ganancio with a smile on his face. “The defender put it on a plate for me. I just poked it past their goalie.”

Blazer praised the effort of his team in bouncing back following UIC’s equalizer.

“We’re pleased with the result. The determination the guys showed was hot,” he said. “UIC were difficult to break down, but our guys were able to stay with it.

“Defensively, we gave them a few chances, so we’ve still got to work on that, but we’re pleased,” Blazer said. “We showed some growth as a team by being able to come back. It’s encouraging.”

Playing a city rival added extra incentive, Ganancio said.

“We’ve had our past with them,” he said. “It feels so good to put it past them and beat a Chicago team. We’ve become more consistent (against UIC) and have learned how to play them.”

The Blue Demons lined up in a 4-3-3 against UIC, a deviation from the 4-1-4-1 they utilized often last season.

“We’ve got three or four good attack-minded players who are fast and a real strength to our team,” Blazer said. “They showed up today. As they keep doing better, we’ll keep doing better as a team. The group understood the game plan and how we want to play this season. They like it. With more games we’ll be able to start putting the other team under pressure this season.”

Next up for the men’s soccer team is a matchup with Western Illinois Wednesday, Aug. 29 at Wish Field. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

NOTES

Blazer praised the performance of goalkeeper Eric Sorby. “He was great in goal. There’s a reason why he’s one of the captain, and he showed it today.”

Only four saves were made the entire match, three by Sorby and one by Kikolski. However, there were 21 total shots, with UIC edging DePaul 13-8.

UIC brought a number of incoming freshmen to the game. The cheering section included a Serbian flag and chants based on the ones sung by Section 8, the supporters’ section of the Chicago Fire.

Blazer before the match praised the younger players in his squad, especially players like Ganancio, Selvaggi, Gustafson and others who have a full season of college soccer under their belts. He called that experienced “invaluable.”
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