The Northern Illinois men’s soccer team fell 1-0 to UW-Milwaukee on Wednesday night in its final non-conference game. The Panthers scored the game’s lone goal in the 14th minute and held on to win on a rainy and windy night at Engelmann Stadium.
“In the first half we weren’t great with our work rate, our energy and our approach, Milwaukee just wanted it more,” NIU head coach Eric Luzzi said.
“In the second half we did everything possible to get a goal, the guys did everything that we asked. I consider this one of those days where we ran out of time more than we lost the game. If we would have had a couple more minutes on the clock I think we would have tied the game, but time just ran out.”
Northern Illinois (11-5-0) outshot Milwaukee (6-9-2) 21-10 in the contest and also held a 6-2 edge in corners.
The Panthers scored what would prove to be the winning goal in the 14th minute when Zach Stevenson scored his first goal of the season. Stevenson’s left-footed shot found the upper corner of the goal from 30 yards out.
NIU responded by immediately going on the attack. The Huskies earned a corner kick just two minutes after the goal and nearly equalized as a header from senior Francis Otira (London, England/Finchley Catholic) off the corner went just wide.
In the 27th minute, freshman Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy) whistled a shot toward the Milwaukee goal that was deflected on its way in and then hit the crossbar before going out of play. Kannah had another chance in the 32nd minute as he drove toward the Panther goal but fired his shot wide right of the Milwaukee net.
The Panthers had the final chance before the intermission as Ross Van Osdol forced a save by junior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey (Ocean Springs, Miss./Ocean Springs) in the 45th minute off a free kick. Godsey finished the match with five saves for the Huskies.
Northern Illinois outshot Milwaukee 7-6 in the opening 45 minutes. Both goalkeepers made a pair of saves in the first stanza.
NIU started the second half on the front-foot as the Huskies recorded a trio of shots in the first four minutes of the second 45, but two of the efforts went wide and the third was blocked by the Milwaukee defense.
The Huskies continued to come forward as sophomore Karim Darbaki (Faribualt, Minn./Shattuck St. Mary’s) had shots saved by Panther goalkeeper John Shakon in both the 52nd and 54th minutes. The rebound off the second of Darbaki’s efforts fell to sophomore James Stevenson (Falkirk, Scotland/St. Mungo’s) who appeared to equalize for NIU, but Stevenson was ruled to be offside.
The early pressure was a sign of things to come throughout the second 45 minutes as NIU sent 14 shots toward the Milwaukee goal in the second half.
NIU’s James Stevenson rang a shot off the crossbar in the 79th minute but the Huskies were unable to beat Shakon as he made nine saves to help Milwaukee to the victory.
NIU will close the regular season Saturday, Nov. 5, when the Huskies travel to Hartwick for their final Mid-American Conference match of the season. Game time in Oneonta, N.Y., is scheduled for 4 p.m.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.