The Northern Illinois men’s soccer team suffered a 2-0 setback on Wednesday night at Northwestern.
Nikko Boxall and Lepe Seetane scored for the Wildcats as NIU (8-4-0) dropped its first game against a Big Ten foe in over two years.
“Northwestern had two shots on goal and they both went in,” NIU head coach Eric Luzzi said.
“Our team just isn’t in sync right now. We have a number of good players that just are not in good form right now. We have a lot of the ball in games right now and that comes with a different type of responsibility. Northwestern is a good team, they are organized defensively and they are a hard team to breakdown. I think we have some guys who have put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect, and when you do that, bad things are going to happen.”
Northwestern (6-4-3) had the better of play in the first opening 30 minutes of the contest, but the NIU defense was solid in the final third, not allowing any dangerous opportunities to Northwestern.
The best chance came to Reed Losee on a free header in the NIU box, but Losee couldn’t get the chance on frame, missing harmlessly wide left.
NIU got a better hold of the match in the final 10 minutes of the half; sophomore James Stevenson made a good run down the right side before being blocked off by the Northwestern defense and senior Finn Jor had a shot from 25 yards that forced a save from the Wildcat goalkeeper.
Shots were even at three apiece in the opening 45 minutes, the Huskies registered the only two shots on target.
The contest opened up early in the second half as both teams created more chances, but neither team was able to connect on the final pass to create a clear-cut chance.
Northwestern broke the deadlock on a header by Nikko Boxall in the 58th minute. Boxall’s header came from the top of the six-yard box off a corner kick by Peter O’Neill.
The Huskies responded with an excellent chance in the 63rd minute. After a number of headers by both teams in the Northwestern box, a chance finally fell to Jor at the far post, his shot back across goal hit the post and was cleared by Northwestern.
NIU pressed the game for the next 20 minutes, but couldn’t break through the Northwestern backline.
With the Huskies pressing forward, Northwestern caught NIU on the break with just 3:37 to play as Nick Gendron crossed to Lepe Seetane. NIU goalkeeper Jordan Godsey got a hand on Seetane’s header but was unable to keep the ball out of the net as the Wildcats doubled their lead and sealed the win.
NIU returns home for the first of two-straight home matches Wednesday, Oct. 19, when it hosts Western Michigan at 3 p.m.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.