Senior Juan Hoyos scored in the 81st minute to lift the Northern Illinois men’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory Sunday over Gonzaga and give the Huskies the Northwestern Lakeside Classic tournament championship.
“It’s always good to get the result, especially against atough team like Gonzaga,” NIU head coach Eric Luzzi said. “They made itdifficult on us at times, and our guys did well to keep a level of intensity and work rate throughout the match.”
Hoyos lofted a header over Gonzaga keeper Ryan Caballero after receiving a long pass from Francis Otira. Caballerro, who made six saves in the match, came off his line in an attempt to stop the attack. Hoyos’ header floated over the keeper and took one bounce into the net.
“It was good to see Juan get back on track with the goal,”Luzzi said. “Francis was our top player all weekend, and a lot of credit for our success this weekend goes to him.”
Otira’s effort, which included the game-winning goal againstthe Crusaders, earned him tournament most valuable player honors. Hoyos, freshman James Stevenson and senior Kyle Knotek garnered recognition on the all-tournament team.
The Huskies won their third consecutive match and improvedto 3-2-1, now one-third of the way through the regular season. NIU swept their matches at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic, including a 2-1 win Friday versus Holy Cross.
“The guys played well, and it feels good to get a bit of our ‘get-it-done’ personality back,” Luzzi said. “Credit to Gonzaga, we were on the doorstep all day and it took 80-plus minutes to score.”
Northern Illinois pelted Caballero with 15 shots, including four on target from Stevenson. Midfielder Gael Rivera, also a freshman, accounted for the other two attempts on target. Gonzaga totaled only six shots in the match.
The shot margin was most lopsided in the first half, when the Huskies took eight chances to Gonzaga’s one. The Bulldogs, who fell to 2-3-0, managed five shots in the second period, but failed to force NIU keeper Jordan Godsey to make a save.
The Huskies return to action Friday, Sept. 24, at Bradley.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.