CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State University men's soccer team got the 2017 campaign off on the right foot as the Vikings scored twice in the final 14 minutes to break a tie and claim a 3-1 victory over visiting Robert Morris on a gorgeous Friday evening at Krenzler Field.
The victory was the first collegiate win for first-year head coach Kirk Harwat.
In the first 30 minutes or so of the match, Pewu, Pio and Karpeh, who all would end up scoring, had decent looks at goal saved by RMU keeper Winter Fondi.
Robert Morris did not generate much in the way of chances in the opening frame. A 12th minute look at goal, after forcing a turnover, was sailed well wide of the frame by the Colonials. Roald Aas Ravlum got down the right flank in the 39th minute, but no Colonial was near the ball he swung in toward the goal.
Pio and Karpeh had opportunities in the 43rd minute, but both of their shots, taken within the box, were blocked by RMU defenders, and the ball was eventually cleared out of the area.
After only outshooting the Colonials by two shots in the opening frame, CSU would claim a six-shot edge in the final 45 minutes.
RMU had some of their better chances of the match around the 60th minute. A free kick from a potentially dangerous position was played near the top of the box, but Pewu headed it away from goal. In the 62nd minute, Jake Cooper hit a low shot directly off a corner that went slightly wide.
That near miss, along with the 58th minute insertion of redshirt junior Brent Nanchoff, the first CSU sub of the evening, may have sparked the Vikings into the lead.
Sophomore Thomas Bielanski found senior captain Alec Nagucki in space just outside the 18-yard box. Nagucki took a touch and then played the ball into the path of an onrushing Nanchoff toward the left edge of the box. Nanchoff would whip a low centering cross in that Karpeh was able to flick slightly backward to Pewu. His classmate calmly finished, sending a low shot through defenders and inside the left post.
Karpeh used some nifty footwork to create space for himself inside the box fewer than two minutes later, but his shot was wide of the mark.
The Colonials wasted no time equalizing as Keane McIvor and Bailey Winkel teamed up for a pretty goal. Operating almost near midfield, McIvor played a long ball over the top of the defense while Winkel perfectly timed his run to get in behind. Winkel was able to hold off the Viking defenders charging from behind him and slot a shot into the far left corner.
With the score tied and regulation time shrinking, CSU used a pair of beautifully hit shots to claim the win.
In the 77th minute, junior Antonio Burgoa played classmate Jordan Ianiro down the left flank. Ianiro, PIo and Nanchoff then exchanged close-range passes. Pio would gather a pass, dribble slightly away from goal to create space from his defender before getting momentum behind his body to unleash a brilliant effort, from about 25 yards out, that snuck under the crossbar and over the line.
The Vikings put the game to bed in the 83rd minute with a third tally. Karpeh flicked a header on to Ianiro, this time racing down the right flank. Ianiro took the ball almost to the flag before playing a pass parallel to the touch line. Karpeh dribbled the ball into the box while shielding the ball from his defender before ripping an effort into the upper left corner from about 16 yards away.
Cleveland State held possession for much of the remainder of the match to garner its first win of the season.
CSU had notable advantages in shots (18-10), shots on goal (12-3) and corner kicks (11-3).
It marked the second straight season opener that Karpeh scored and that Pewu had a point with CSU winning both affairs. All three of Pewu's career goals have come against Robert Morris. Nanchoff and Ianiro each tallied his first collegiate point Friday.
After losing two central defenders, both seniors, from last year's team that had combined for 108 matches played, CSU started two freshmen in those positions Friday with Thomas M'Barek and Dan Manolache both making their collegiate debuts.
Eighteen of the last 21 goals CSU has scored have come in the second half.
Cleveland State will begin a five-match roadtrip Tuesday, Aug. 29, at Bowling Green.