Carried by three goals, two of which occurred in the first half, the Northern Illinois Huskies continued its postseason magic with a 3-0 victory over in-state foe Western Illinois. Sophomore Sean Totsch (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) scored the golden-goal for the second-consecutive match, giving NIU it’s 15th win of the season and tying the program record for most wins a season. Northern Illinois will now head to No. 2 seed Creighton Sunday for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
“Even though we were able to score two goals in the first half and have a multiple goal victory, it does not mean it was an easy game,” said Head Coach Eric Luzzi during the post-match press conference, “I thought we made the most of a couple of half chances and I thought for the most part, we managed things pretty well to limit any chances that they tried to take.
“I think (a win like this is) huge. We expect to be a team in this position every year. So the fact that we’re here, we’re hosting and we had a good crowd, I’m pleased for the guys and for our program because it makes a statement about who we are and where we’re at.”
The Huskies did not waste any time to make its first statement of the match as Totsch got the right touch from sophomore Karim Darbaki (Fairbuilt, Minn./Shattuck St. Mary’s) in the five yard box to slip the ball into the net for Northern Illlnois’ first goal of the match, 19:46 into the match, for his third goal of the season. Totsch has now scored the golden goal for the Huskies in three of the last four matches.
In the 43rd minute, freshman Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy) doubled Northern Illinois’ money in the match on a pair of precision passes from sophomore James Stevenson (Falkirk, Scotland/St. Mungo’s) and senior Kenny Kranz (Champaign, Ill./Centennial) to lift NIU to 2-0, a lead they would retain into the half. Kannah swept the shot past goalkeeper Andy Ryan from the center of the 18-yard box.
After a talking to from their Head Coach Eric Johnson, the Leathernecks came out with a fiery energy, amassing three shots in the opening seven minutes of the half, but none of which were on junior Jordan Godsey‘s (Ocean Springs, Miss./Ocean Springs) frame. WIU tested Godsey only once in the match, occurring in the 84th minute, when Daniel Lewis shot a hard roller to the All-MAC keeper that went right into Godsey’s mitts.
“Any time you limit (a team to one shot on goal), it’s a statement of the group as a whole – all 11 guys have to be brought into that (equation). The back six and Jordan were very solid today,” remarked Luzzi.
In the final scoring tally of the of the afternoon, junior Mike Mascetti (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove) scored his first goal of the season in the 73rd minute on a one-timer from Kranz, registering his second assist of the day, and giving the Huskies their ninth multiple goal contest.
NIU will now travel to Omaha, Neb. for a second round bout against No. 2 Creighton (18-2-0). The match is slated to begin at 1 p.m. central time.