Late penalty dooms men’s soccer in MIAA opener against Peacocks

In a file photo from 2017, Jose de Val Lopez, number 18, defends the goal against Upper Iowa University.
Photo by Rolando Dupuy.

DOMINIC HOSCHER | Reporter

Gaspar Alvarez stayed hot for Lindenwood in their MIAA opener against Upper Iowa University, but a late penalty kick in the final two minutes of the match saw the Peacocks slip out of the conference matchup with a 2-1 victory.

Little separated the two sides for a majority of the 90 minutes. In the first half, both teams balanced each other’s attacks out, with the score remaining level at 0-0 through the first 25 minutes. At the 28:20 mark, however, the Peacocks would find the opening goal through the dangerous forward Italo Martins Soares.

Entering the game without a goal on the season, Soares had been one of Upper Iowa’s more aggressive players up front, tallying at least four shots in three of the Peacocks’ first five games. The chances finally turned into a goal for Soares, who put the visitors out in front with a 1-0 lead.

This score would last through the remainder of the first half, putting the Lions in a familiar comeback position. Just seven days ago, a 75th minute goal saw Lindenwood erase a one-goal deficit against Harding University. They would do it again on Sunday.

With 15 minutes left before the final whistle, Lindenwood’s lethal Alvarez found the equalizer and his third goal of the season, making the score an even 1-1. Andrei Ciot and Leon Silva were both credited with assists on the goal.

It was shaping up to be a similar finish to last week’s game. A late Lions goal would see the game go to overtime. But as the minutes trickled down on the clock, Lindenwood fouled an Upper Iowa attacker in their own box that gifted the away side a golden opportunity from the spot.

Stepping up to take the penalty with the game on the line was junior Marko Cirko, who was searching for the dramatic game-winning goal and his first of the season. Cirko made no mistake from the spot, drilling the winner past Lindenwood’s Aleksa Nenadic. The Peacocks won by a final of 2-1.

The close final score accurately represented the flow of the game, as both teams had six shots on goal each. It was Upper Iowa’s second win of the season, and first in conference play. On the other end, the Lions suffer their first loss since Sept. 7, falling to a record of 3-3-1 on the year. Lindenwood will look to bounce back next Friday at home against #8 Northeastern State University.

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