CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State University men's soccer team scored early and often en route to a season-opening 3-0 win over defending Atlantic 10 champion Dayton at a gorgeous Krenzler Field Friday evening.
While the rookie and the captain tallied goals for CSU, the Vikings were equally adept at keeping the ball out of their own net. Dayton led the nation in scoring offense last year, and entered the season among the top 30 in the national rankings, but CSU kept the guests off the scoreboard. It was the sixth consecutive match in which the Vikings did not allow a goal in regulation.
The first shot of the season for CSU would result in a goal, and it came from the penalty spot. Sophomore Gianluca DiFranco gained possession of the ball near midfield and then sent a pass to an onrushing Gabe Pewu. Pewu split the defense and was in on the goalie alone but was then taken down from behind. Manesio calmly buried the spot kick into the lower right corner to put the Vikings on top and notch his 14th career tally in the process.
Redshirt senior Aleksandar Drobac was called into action later in the half, and the keeper made a key save while charging an oncoming Flyer.
Cleveland State was able to cling to its 1-0 lead for portions of the second half before it was able to find space behind the Dayton defense in the dying minutes.
Junior Hesham Hammouda was a key factor in CSU's second goal. He gathered possession of the ball in his own 18-yard box and sprinted down the right sideline. After eluding a defender and running at least 50 yards, Hammouda played a wonderful diagonal ball to Karpeh. Karpeh had only the keeper to beat and he went around the goalie to slot the ball into the open net.
Fewer than two minutes later, Karpeh would strike again. Sophomore Noah Pio would pick off a Dayton pass in the offensive half. After a few dribbles, he passed ahead to Pewu. Pewu's shot forced the goalie into a diving save, but Karpeh pounced on the rebound to hammer it home.
Drobac earned his seventh career shutout with a trio of saves. CSU also blocked five shots on the evening to help keep the Flyers off the board as Manesio and sophomore Antonio Burgoa anchored the center of the defense while freshman Vlad Jandric and junior Jake Lagania played in fullback roles.
CSU had a 7-3 advantage in shots on goal. CSU is now 8-1 all-time against Dayton and is 6-1-1 in its last eight regular-season matches dating back to last year.
Cleveland State now has a quick turnaround, as the Vikings will play their road opener Sunday, Aug. 28, at Robert Morris.