Huskies net overtime winner against UC Davis

Sophomore Gael Riverascored his second goal of the weekend as the No. 13 Northern Illinois men’s soccer team defeated UC Davis, 1-0, in overtime on Sunday at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic.

Gael Rivera

Gael Rivera

Following a scoreless 90 minutes, NIU (6-1) found the game-winner 2:30 into the overtime session. After some good buildup play down the left side, freshman Isaac Kannah played a cross in toward Rivera. The UC Davis defender appeared to handle the ball on the initial bounce before the ball fell to Rivera who made no mistake in finding the net from five yards out.

The goal was Rivera’s third of the season and helped him earn all-tournament team honors. Senior Francis Otira joined Rivera on the Lakeside Classic All-Tournament team.

“We were not very good in the first half and that continues to be a worry for us,” NIU head coach Eric Luzzi said. “We have been able to stay in games even when we only play 45 minutes but, sooner or later, our luck will run out. In the second half we did a better job of getting our foot on the ball, but credit to UC Davis, they have an excellent backline, they are tough to break down and they maintain a good shape.

“We had a few chances in the second half and probably should have put at least one of those chances away,” Luzzi continued. “But I was pleased that we maintained our belief, kept playing and knew that a goal would come.”

UC Davis (2-3-2) had a quality chance just two minutes into the contest as Kevin Schulte fired a shot from just inside the 18-yard box. Schulte’s chance looked labeled for the upper corner of the net before a leaping Jordan Godsey palmed the ball over the crossbar.

Off another Aggie corner in the 19th minute, Brian Ford sent in a blistering shot from outside the box that Godsey tipped over the bar.

Godsey finished the match with four saves.

The first real chance for the Huskies fell to sophomore Karim Darbaki in the 22nd minute as a combination play led to a shot from 25 yards out that was straight at the UC Davis goalkeeper. An even better chance for Darbaki came two minutes later as he flashed a header just wide off a corner kick.
The Huskies and Aggies went to the intermission scoreless; UC Davis held a 6-3 edge in shots in the opening 45 minutes.

NIU earned an early corner in the second half, Kannah took the corner and a chance eventually fell to sophomore Sean Totsch whose shot went high over the goal two minutes into the second half.

Matt Wiesenfarth created the first opportunity for UC Davis in the second half. After getting around a Huskie defender, Wiesenfarth’s low shot just missed the near post in the 56th minute.

Kannah had an opportunity from the top of the box in the 59th minute. Senior Pat Sloan fed a pass to Kannah who took a pair of touches to get free before his shot went straight to the UC Davis goalkeeper.

The Aggies had a couple of chances in the 75th minute as the NIU defense got stretched. An initial chance was thwarted as a pair of Aggies ran into each other and then Alex Aguiar sent the final shot well high of the Huskie goal.

NIU had a couple of chances in the final moments of regulation. With just under a minute to play Rivera played a corner into an excellent area in front of goal, but the Huskies were unable to get a strong header towards goal. At the end of the same sequence, senior Finn Jor deflected a cross just wide of the UC Davis goal.

The Huskies outshot the Aggies 8-6 in the second 45 minutes and scored on the first shot of the overtime period.

NIU will return to action next Saturday, Sept. 24, as they travel to Des Moines, Iowa to face Drake at 7 p.m.

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