Despite a 19-6 edge in shots, the Northern Illinois men’s soccer team was surprised by Buffalo, 2-1, in double overtime on Saturday afternoon at the NIU Soccer Complex.
Sophomore James Stevenson netted the lone goal of the contest for the Huskies in the 72nd minute.
Buffalo (6-5-1) scored on its first shot on goal of the contest. Nate Woods crossed a ball in from the left side and Maksym Kowal redirected the cross past Jordan Godsey to give the Bulls a lead in the 17th minute. The goal would prove to be the lone shot on goal in regulation time for Buffalo.
“Buffalo is a very hard, physical team,” NIU head coach Eric Luzzi said. “I thought that, at times, we let ourselves get rattled by that. We had games earlier in the year where it seemed that we had a belief that a goal would come. We had a ton of chances today, but when we didn’t finish our chances today our belief wavered.”
The first good chance for NIU to equalize came in the 33rd minute as sophomore Gael Rivera had a pair of chances. Stevenson and freshman Isaac Kannah began the sequence, with Kannah pulling the Buffalo goalkeeper out of the net. Kannah set up Rivera, whose initial shot was cleared off the goal line by a Bulls defender. Rivera’s second attempt was saved by Jonathan Viscosi, who had recovered in goal for Buffalo.
Northern Illinois (7-2-0) held an 8-4 advantage in shots in the opening 45 minutes.
After the intermission, the Huskies continued to apply the pressure, finally breaking through in the 73rd minute. Kannah drove toward goal along the end line to the left of the Buffalo goal before crossing to Stevenson who made no mistake, slotting the ball past Viscosi to tie the match, 1-1.
Just two minutes later, Rivera came within inches of scoring a go-ahead goal for the Huskies. Shooting back across goal, Rivera whistled a shot inches wide of the post.
Neither team found a goal in the final 15 minutes and, for the third time in its last four games, NIU would go to overtime.
After just one shot was recorded in the opening 10-minute overtime, the Huskies created a pair of excellent chances in the second overtime period.
Sophomore Houston Hoffman found himself all alone on the left-wing side in the 104th minute and sent a shot that just missed the back post. Less than a minute later, senior Brad Horton crossed the ball in from the right side and junior Mike Mascitti rose highest to head the ball toward goal. Mascitti’s header seemed destined to result in a game-winner but Viscosi made a spectacular diving stop to push the ball away.
In the 108th minute, Buffalo scored to win the game off a free kick from near midfield. Matthew Chereson played a long ball to Lukas Fedler who headed the ball back across goal and just inside the post for the game-winning goal.
NIU will return to action Tuesday, Oct. 4, when the Huskies step back out of conference for a matchup at Marquette. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.