The Northern Illinois men’s soccer team dropped a 1-0 decision at No. 14 Northwestern on Wednesday night at Lakeside Field.
“We are disappointed in the result, we are always disappointed if we don’t get a result, no matter who we play,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. “Northwestern is a legit top-15 team in the country and I thought, for large stretches of the game, we were on the front-foot, had the better of the play. On the whole, we created the better of the chances.
“We feel a little hard done by; we thought it was a poor call on the foul at midfield (that led to the goal). Credit to them, that is the reason they are a top team, they don’t need many chances. They took the chance well, that is what they do, but I thought our guys had a good performance today.”
Northwestern (8-3-0) had the quicker start, seeing more of the ball in the opening 10 minutes, but despite the early possession, the Wildcats were unable to create any clear chances.
NIU (3-8-0) had its first chance of the contest in the 14th minute off a corner. Junior Jayson LeSeth’s (Des Plaines, Ill./Maine West) corner found senior Sean Totsch (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) alone at the back post, but Totsch was unable to put his attempt on goal.
The best chance of the half came in the 18th minute from senior James Stevenson (Falkirk, Scotland./St. Mungo’s). After junior Andrew Palumbo (Ft. Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot/Darton College) did very well getting down the left side, Palumbo crossed to Stevenson whose half-volley went just high from near the penalty spot.
In the 34th minute, Joey Calistri had the best effort of the half for Northwestern. A long ball out of the back found Calistri and his shot from distance that was just wide of the post to the right of freshman goalkeeper Mike Pavliga (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central). Pavliga was making his first career appearance in goal for the Huskies.
The Wildcats had another chance just two minutes before the intermission as Cole Missimo found space near the top of the box, but his shot went high and the game was scoreless at the break.
Northwestern opened the scoring in the 57th minute on a goal by Chris Ritter. After a foul in midfield by NIU, Scott Lakin took the free kick, finding Ritter in the box. Ritter’s glancing header went in off the post to give the Wildcats at 1-0 lead.
Pushing forward down the right side, junior Shawn Vroom (Kohler, Wis./Kohler) had a chance for NIU in the 59th minute, cutting inside before testing Northwestern goalkeeper Tyler Miller from near the top of the box.
The Huskies had another opportunity in the 73rd minute as a backheel from junior Paul Hogan (Downers Grove, Ill./North) left the ball into the path of Stevenson who fired high of goal. Just a minute later, Palumbo just missed the far post with a shot as the Huskies continued to push forward for an equalizer.
NIU’s best chance of the second half came in the 85th minute. Junior Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy) earned NIU a free kick 25 yards from goal. Stevenson stepped up and took the kick, beating Miller, but his effort was just wide of the near post and Northwestern hung on for the 1-0 victory.
The Huskies will return action Saturday, Oct. 12, when they travel to Bowling Green to face the Falcons. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.