BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - UAB defender Mladen Lemezrecorded a pair of goals, including the game-winner five minutes into the first overtime, to lift the Blazers to a 2-1 victory over Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon at West Campus Field. With the win, UAB won the 2011 "Soccer For A Cure" Classic championship and remains unbeaten (5-0-2) on the season.
The game-winner came at the 5:47 mark of the first overtime off a corner kick from senior midfielder Chris Williams. Lemez ran to the near post to meet the ball and flicked it on to the far post, just out of the reach of the diving Milwaukee goalkeeper John Shakon and into the back of the net. It was the second consecutive overtime contest for UAB and fourth in seven games this season.
"We have a team full of tough guys who are able to mentally remain in any game we play," UAB head coach Mike Getmansaid. "We didn't necessarily play our best. They are a good team and move the ball well. We fell behind, but stuck to our gameplan and worked hard all the way through. You have to love any team that can find a way to win and that's what we did today."
UAB had to fight and come-from-behind for a second consecutive game to keep the unbeaten streak alive.
After a scoreless opening 45 minutes, the Panthers struck first 20 seconds into the second half on a penalty kick. The foul was drawn by Milwaukee's Nick Langford when he was chopped down in the box by Lemez. Milwaukee's Gerardo Saaverda converted to the penalty to give his team the 1-0 lead.
UAB continued to pressure and attack the Panther defense, coming close time and time again. However, Shakon, who finished with a career-high 10 saves on the day, was up for the challenge.
Just when it seemed like Milwaukee was going to snap the UAB unbeaten streak, Lemez connected on the first of his two goals at the 85:57 mark. The game-tying tally came when the 6-5 defender rose above everyone to head a throw in from teammate Michael Brody, which managed to sneak past Shakon into the top right post.
Both teams had opportunities in the overtime before Lemez's heroics in the 96th minute. Of the Blazers' four goals on the weekend, three came from Lemez and all four were scored by UAB defenders - a good sign according to head coach Mike Getman.
"We have a lot of good soccer player," Getman said. "We tell the guys all the time that other teams can take certain things away, but they can't take all of our weapons away. We did a good job today of taking what they gave to us and exploiting certain weaknesses. Obviously, Mladen is a very good player and it's not a surprise he is scoring goals."
The Blazers finished the contest outshooting Milwaukee, 20-12, and had a commanding 13-2 shots-on-goal advantage. UAB also had an 8-5 edge in corner kicks.
With the 5-0-2 start to the season, the Blazers are off to their second-best start in program history, trailing the 2003 squad that started the year off with a 6-0-2 record.
UAB will put its unbeaten mark on the line when they travel to Seattle, Wash., to participate in the Husky Classic on Sept. 23-25.