CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State University men's soccer team took a lead in the first half and made it stand up through 90 minutes in a 2-1 victory over Belmont in Horizon League action Saturday evening at a breezy and chilly Krenzler Field.
A trio of Vikings—senior co-captain Hesham Hammouda, sophomore Vlad Jandric and junior Noah Pio—were involved in both Viking goals. Sophomore Sebastian Kalk also made a couple of key saves for CSU to help the home side to its third consecutive win.
"I thought we had a solid first half tonight," head coach Kirk Harwat said. "Going up 2-0 in the first half and having most of the possession was what we wanted to accomplish. Giving up the goal late in the first half gave them some life. We were a little sluggish at times in the second half and not as sharp on the ball as we would like to be. However, we still found a way to get the three points."
Harwat made a single change to the starting XI from the squad's last League match as freshman Ben Hryszko earned the start at right back.
Belmont used corner kicks to create the first chances of the match. In the fourth minute, corner service to the far post saw a header on frame, but Kalk made a diving stop to his right to knock the ball away. The Vikings had quality service from a set piece in the seventh minute, but Hryszko's header sailed high.
About 10 minutes later, Kalk made a pair of relatively comfortable saves on Belmont shots. The Vikings then began increasing their level, as they took eight of the next nine shots in the match, scoring twice.
Jandric blocked a Belmont defender's pass, and Hammouda ran on to the ensuing deflection. Hammouda would dribble diagonally up the field before laying a pass to an onrushing Pio. Pio took a touch near the edge of the area and blasted his shot into the far upper corner of the netting.
Kalk made a fine save in the 36th minute when he stayed connected to his near post and didn't allow a tight angle shot in.
CSU earned a corner in the 41st minute and took full advantage. Pio played it into the box where Hammouda flicked it slightly further toward the goal. Jandric then jumped and headed the ball toward the far post, beating the keeper to the spot.
Belmont refused to be denied in the opening half as it scored in the period's final minute. Adam Voloder headed in a cross from the right flank from about six yards out to bring more drama back to the proceedings entering the break.
The Bruins had a great chance to equalize within five minutes of the resumption of play when they hit CSU on the counter, creating a 2-on-1 with a Viking defender. Kalk came up with a huge stop to keep the hosts in front.
Belmont did cause CSU some worry in the second half but was unable to connect the final pass. The Vikings dealt with a free kick in the 86th minute. With just under two minutes left, the Bruins played a soft pass to try and slip an attacker through, but Kalk came out to claim it.
In beating Belmont by the same scoreline as it did last season, Cleveland State moved to 4-0 in League action against the Bruins.
Pio now has a three-match point streak as he netted his third goal of the campaign. He now has assists in back-to-back matches and has scored in the past two League fixtures.
Hammouda moved past 20 career points by posting the first multi-assist match of his career. It was the first multi-assist match by a Viking since 2014.
Jandric posted his fourth goal in five matches and tallied for the second straight League match.
Cleveland State has now taken 10 of a possible 12 points in League matches and has outshot its opponent in every League fixture thus far.
The Vikings are now 6-0-1 in their last seven home matches, their longest unbeaten stretch at home since one that occurred from 2008-10.
With the second month of the season complete, Cleveland State will conclude its homestand next Saturday, Oct. 7, by hosting Milwaukee at 7:00 p.m.