THE OPENING KICK
Cleveland State hosts Detroit Mercy in its regular-season finale as both the Vikings and Titans look to guarantee passage to the Horizon League Tournament.
SENIOR DAY RECOGNITION
Cleveland State will honor the five members of its senior class—Thomas Bielanski, Vlad Jandric, Lawrence Karpeh, Hayden Parente and Gabriel Pewu—with a recognition ceremony in advance of Friday's contest.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Detroit Mercy enters with a 6-10-1 overall record on the campaign. The Titans endured a five-match winless streak from mid-September into early October that threatened to derail their campaign, but they have rebounded with wins in four of their last eight overall. Each of those four wins have been of the shutout variety as the Titans have also taken full points in three of their past four Horizon League contests. Kyle Bandyk leads the team in both goals (3) and points (8) while Devin Mendez has played every minute in goal for the Titans. With a win, the Titans would post their highest finish in the Horizon League table since 2014.
AGAINST THIS OPPONENT
Cleveland State is 11-17-3 all-time against Detroit Mercy. The sides first met in 1994 and have met at least once in every season since. It will mark the third straight season, and fourth time overall, that the Vikings have ended a regular season with the Titans with CSU owning a 1-1-1 mark in these matchups. Cleveland State has a 5-3-2 record in the past 10 meetings, but owns a 5-1-1 mark in the past seven meetings in Ohio. In last year's meeting in Detroit, the teams shared the points after the Vikings equalized with just 33 seconds left in regulation. Zack Kluever had the tying goal while Hayden Parente provided the assist.
LAST TIME OUT
Cleveland State dropped a 2-1 decision in overtime at regular-season champion UIC. The Vikings played the final 31 minutes with 10 men but were able to find an equalizing goal from Jannis Schmidt with about 10 minutes left in regulation. However, the numerical disadvantage proved too much to overcome as the Flames won in overtime for the sixth time this season.
With the final day of the Horizon League regular season set for Friday, Cleveland State has everything to play for. If the season ended today, the Vikings would occupy the sixth and final seed in the league tournament. CSU can take comfort in the fact that a win will guarantee the Vikings a place in the postseason tournament. For further playoff scenarios, please see below:
To Clinch a Quarterfinal Home Match:
- CSU win AND Wright State loss/tie
To Clinch a Horizon League Tournament Berth:
- CSU win
- CSU tie AND Milwaukee loss/tie
- CSU tie AND IUPUI win
- CSU loss AND Wright State win/tie AND Milwaukee loss/tie
STOPPING SO MANY SHOTS
After posting 34 saves in his first 12 matches, freshman goalkeeper Omeed Naeemy came close to equaling that total in the two matches last week. Naeemy made 16 saves against regular-season champion UIC in a game in which the Vikings were reduced to 10 men. His 16 saves tied the Horizon League single-match record and was the most by a league player in over 30 years. His 16 saves were also the highest total by a Viking in the past 25 years and is the second-highest total produced by any Division I goalkeeper in the past five seasons. That effort against UIC came after he had produced a then season-high nine stops in a win over 2018 national finalist Akron.
COACH VS. ALMA MATER
When Cleveland State kicked off against Akron last week, CSU head coach Sinisa Ubiparipovic was facing off against the side he played for collegiately. The first-ever player from Akron to be drafted in the MLS SuperDraft, Ubiparipovic was a two-time All-American for Akron and was named the 2006 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year. He led the Vikings to a 3-1 victory over the Zips in his first-ever matchup against his alma mater.
GOALS FOR GABRIEL
Senior Gabriel Pewu tallied his second brace of the season in CSU's 3-1 win over Akron in the last home match. He has six goals in the past six matches he's started. Pewu's team-leading nine goals have easily surpassed his previous career high of six. Pewu is second in the Horizon League in goals per game. Pewu's success is due in part due to his ability to put the ball on target as he ranks sixth in Division I in shot accuracy (20 shots on goal on 31 total shots).
POWERING PAST POWER FIVE
With its win Oct. 12 at Ohio State, the Vikings claimed their second result this season against a Power Five opponent. In fact, Cleveland State is now 3-0-1 in its past four matches against Power Five foes, all of which have come on the road. The Vikings have scored 11 total goals in these matches and came back from deficits in two of the matches to earn a result.
OH SO CLOSE
In every one of Cleveland State's losses this season, the Vikings came up one goal short. Only four times in CSU's 14 matches this season has a team won a match by more than one goal.
Entering its regular-season finale, Cleveland State has allowed no more than one goal in nine matches this season. The Vikings currently lead the Horizon League in fewest goals allowed (16) and sit second in goals against average (1.11).
Senior Lawrence Karpeh sits second on the team in goals (4) and points (10). Karpeh has a point in five of the past nine matches overall. He scored at Ohio State for a second straight season, finding the net via a header for the first time overall since he was a freshman. He then scored what proved to be the winning goal Oct. 15 vs. Duquesne, converting a penalty kick that he had drawn.
BEATING THE BUCKEYES AGAIN
Cleveland State claimed a 3-2 win at Ohio State in mid-October as Gabriel Pewu had a brace and Lawrence Karpeh also scored. CSU went up 2-0 only to see the Buckeyes find the equalizers in a span of fewer than 30 seconds, neither of which came from the run of play. However, Pewu broke the deadlock fewer than three minutes later with his winning strike. It marked the second straight season in which CSU won at Ohio State.
WORKING (AND WINNING IN) OVERTIME
Cleveland State posted a 2-1 victory over Northern Kentucky in overtime Sept. 21. The Vikings' most recent previous overtime victory had come in the 2015 Horizon League Tournament. At the time, it marked CSU's first win in extra time in its past 57 matches and its first win in its past 13 overtime matches.
Twenty of the 21 outfield Vikings have played this season. Seven Vikings have made their NCAA soccer debut this season, six outfield players and goaltender Omeed Naeemy. Naeemy, true freshman Pablo Kawecki and transfers Nick McCausland and Andrew Nicholas are the four debutants to start a match thus far this season.
ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL:
Trailing 2-0 with under 20 minutes to play in the season opener at Louisville, Cleveland State rallied to earn a result. It was the first time in CSU's last 50 matches that it had rallied from a multi-goal deficit to earn a result. The most recent such occurrence had come at Robert Morris in August 2016. CSU has now come from behind to earn a result at least once in 14 consecutive seasons and has achieved the feat on the road in nine straight seasons.
ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL, PART II
Trailing 1-0 with under five minutes to play in the HL home opener, Cleveland State rallied to claim the win. The Vikings tied the match in the 86th minute before winning it in the 100th minute on a Gabriel Pewu strike. It was the second time this season the Vikings scored two goals in under 15 minutes to turn a deficit into a result.
ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL, PART III
Trailing 1-0 against perennial power Akron in the non-conference finale, Cleveland State rallied to claim the win. Vlad Jandric tied the match before Gabriel Pewu scored twice in a span of 105 seconds to give the Vikings the lead for good in the second half. The victory ended a four-match losing streak in the series against the Zips.
ALRIGHT AGAINST ACC:
In earning a 2-2 tie against Louisville to open its season, Cleveland State secured a result against an ACC side for the fourth year in the last five seasons. The Vikings took down Pittsburgh on the road last season, 4-3.
LEADING THE CHARGE:
Cleveland State is under the direction of first-year head coach Sinisa Ubiparipovic in 2019. Ubiparipovic, who attended high school and college in Northeast Ohio, was elevated after previously serving as the program's top assistant. He appeared in over 200 professional soccer matches, including an even 100 in the Major League Soccer (MLS) ranks with New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact.
- Jannis Schmidt has two goals and two assists on the season after scoring last time out
- Nick McCausland made his first collegiate start last time out, lining up at right back
- Vlad Jandric has scored in each of the past two home matches and also added an assist
- All of Jandric's points this season have come in home matches
- Stjepan Mijic-Barisic notched his first collegiate point with his game-winning assist in the last home match
- Thomas Bielanski scored his first goal since September 2017 in the Oct. 19 win at IUPUI
- Cleveland State posted 22 shots Oct. 19 at IUPUI, its most in a regulation match since 2016
- Cleveland State did not allow a shot on goal in its Oct. 15 win over Duquesne
- Cleveland State is 5-1 overall at home this season
- Cleveland State had won its first four home matches for the first time since 1987
- CSU has outscored its opposition 13-4 at home this season
- Hayden Parente had a pair of assists last month from his outside back role
- Andrew Nicholas' goal Oct. 15 vs. Duquesne was his first as a collegian
- Nicholas has a team-high three assists this season
- Pablo Kawecki scored his first collegiate goal Oct. 9 at Cincinnati and notched his first assist Oct. 15 vs. Duquesne
- Thomas Bielanski notched the first multi-assist match of his career at Ohio State
- CSU has erased a deficit with back-to-back goals within 15 minutes of each other in three matches this season
- The Vikings also used back-to-back goals within 15 minutes of each other to turn a second-half tie into a lead against Akron
- Three Vikings—Lawrence Karpeh, Ryan Kolonick and Omeed Naeemy—have started all 14 matches this season
- CSU's win over Northern Kentucky was its first in the five all-time meetings between the teams
- CSU has now scored three goals after the 85th minute in the last two meetings with NKU
- Thomas M'Barek's goal vs. Robert Morris was the first of his collegiate career
- Omeed Naeemy notched his first shutout as a collegian vs. Robert Morris
- Naeemy has four shutouts on the season
- Ryan Kolonick was named HL Defensive Player of the Week Oct. 21
- Gabriel Pewu was named HL Offensive Player of the Week Oct. 14
- Omeed Naeemy was named HL Defensive Player of the Week Sept. 30
- Jannis Schmidt was named HL Offensive Player of the Week Sept. 3
- Fifty eight of Cleveland State's last 84 goals have come in the second half. In fact, 20 of those goals have taken place in the 77th minute or later
- The last seven Cleveland State head coaches combined to post a 5-0-2 record in their first game as the Vikings' head coach
PRESEASON FREE KICKS:
- Vlad Jandric and Thomas M'Barek were both selected All-Horizon League Second Team in 2018
- It was the second straight season that Jandric earned all-conference honors
- Cleveland State returns 17 student-athletes from last year's roster, 16 of which competed in a match
- Six Vikings return that started at least 10 matches last season, with five of those six competing in at least 14 of the squad's 15 fixtures in 2018
- CSU has eight newcomers on the roster, four true freshmen and four transfers
- Thomas M'Barek was the only Viking to start all 15 matches last season
- Gabriel Pewu and Jannis Schmidt were the other returning Vikings to play in all 15 fixtures in 2018
- Cleveland State is facing at least one Big Ten opponent for the third straight year and an ACC foe for the fifth time in six seasons
- The Vikings will face four of the top 40 programs from last season's final RPI, including two of the top five
- Cleveland State has earned a top-four seed in the HL Tournament seven times since the league went to a six-team format, which is the highest such figure among its league peers
- Cleveland State won consecutive matches at Ohio State and at Pittsburgh last season, the first time since 1984 the Vikings won back-to-back matches against teams currently in a Power Five conference
- Cleveland State's win at Ohio State last season was its first victory over the Buckeyes since 1996 (though the sides have not played every year since then)
- With a 2-0 win at Ohio State last year, Cleveland State has now shut out a Power Five side in three of the past four seasons and six of the past nine
- The Vikings twice rallied from deficits to claim a 4-3 win at Pitt, scoring the winning goal with under six minutes remaining
- Gabriel Pewu had six goals and an assist in the final 11 matches last season
- Vlad Jandric had a hat trick in last year's 3-1 win over UIC, the first by a Viking since 2013
- The Vikings were only outshot once in Horizon League play last season
- Among the 75 starts made by Vikings on defense or in goal last season: 31 starts were made by true freshman or redshirt freshman, 40 starts were made by sophomores with two starts by a junior and two by a senior
- Ryan Kolonick led all CSU freshmen with 11 starting assignments last season
- Thomas M'Barek was named Academic All-Horizon League in 2018
- Noah Pio has joined the Viking coaching staff as a student assistant after playing for CSU the past three seasons