Andy Fleming reaches 100-win milestone in victory over Eastern Illinois
Xavier men’s soccer faced no easy task in their season opener last Friday night as the Musketeers faced off against the reigning National Championship runner-ups in No. 2/3 Akron.
The Zips fell 1-0 to Maryland in last season’s National Championship, and they returned a lot of talent from their roster last season.
However, their season didn’t open the way they planned as Xavier pulled off a shocking upset with a 2-0 win in front of a packed crowd at the XU Soccer Complex.
Xavier picked up another win a few nights later, shutting out Eastern Illinois 3-0 in what was the 100th win of head coach Andy Fleming’s career at Xavier.
Xavier got out to a fairly quick start against Akron, as freshman forward Karson Henderlong scored in the 12th minute off a feed from redshirt junior midfielder Payton Miller.
Xavier held a 1-0 advantage at the half, but they faced heavy pressure from Akron in the second half, as the Zips tallied twelve shots in that half alone.
However, they were unable to score, as redshirt junior goalkeeper Matthew Rosenberg tallied six total saves, including five in the second half to shut down the Zips. It was Rosenberg’s first career start for Xavier and the eighth clean-sheet of his college career, as he registered seven while at the University of Central Florida.
Xavier extended its lead in the 77th as redshirt junior forward Samson Sergi’s header put Xavier ahead 2-0 in what would be the final goal of the game for either side. The win was Xavier’s highest ranked win over an opponent in the history of the XU Soccer Complex and improved the Musketeers record against top-ten opponents to a whopping 8-2-2 since the 2010 season.
Heading into Monday night’s game against Eastern Illinois, Xavier was ranked No. 10 in the country by TopDrawerSoccer.com. Xavier dominated early in the match, outshooting Eastern Illinois 6-0 in the first half and scoring a goal in the 40th minute when freshman forward Noah Boffo found sophomore forward Felix Boe-Tangen who scored off the through ball to put the Musketeers ahead 1-0. Boe-Tangen was back on the scoresheet in the 68th minute when he headed a pass to Sergi who found the back of the net to put Xavier up 2-0.
Five minutes later, Boffo picked up his second assist when he found Sergi on a cross, and Sergi netted his second goal of the game to give Xavier a 3-0 advantage, which proved to be the final.
The win against Eastern Illinois, in addition to being the 100th of Fleming’s coaching career at Xavier, was also the Musketeers 20th win at home since the 2016 season, giving them a 20-5-5 home record during the past three seasons.
At 2-0-0, Xavier will look to keep their undefeated record alive on Friday night when it takes on Cincinnati in the Crosstown Derby, which will be held on UC’s campus.
By Joe Clark | Staff Writer
Newswire photo by Desmond Fisher