The Northern Illinois men’s soccer team closed the exhibition portion of its schedule Saturday with a 1-0 victory over DePaul at the NIU Soccer Complex.
Junior midfielder Gael Rivera (Oslo, Norway/WANG Elite Sports Academy) scored the lone goal of the contest in the 20th minute to lift the Huskies to victory.
“I feel much better now than I did after our first preseason game,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. “We didn’t have a great performance the first time (against Notre Dame), but I thought today was decent. We controlled the majority of the game but, at the same time, I thought DePaul got a hold of things the last 15-20 minutes.
“I think we still need to be a little bit better managing the flow of the game, trying to keep a hold of the game with possession and pressure, and making sure that we are invested for all 90 minutes. On the whole, very good steps forward and I am excited for the guys to get some rest because they haven’t had much since we came into camp.”
The Huskies broke the scoreless deadlock just before the midway point of the first half. Junior midfielder Karim Darbaki (Crystal, Minn./Shattuck St. Mary’s) came through midfield in possession for the Huskies and laid a pass into the feet of sophomore midfielder Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy). Kannah made a run into the box and found Rivera, who slotted a shot past the Blue Demon goalkeeper, giving the Huskies a 1-0 advantage.
Rivera’s goal was the only real scoring opportunity of the first half as NIU edged DePaul in shots, 3-1. The only save of the opening 45 minutes was made by DePaul goalkeeper Joseph Hart.
Both teams created more opportunities in the second 45 minutes as NIU outshot DePaul, 7-5. Despite the increase in shot attempts, neither goal was seriously threatened in the second half as Hart and NIU senior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey (Ocean Springs, Miss./Ocean Springs), a second half substitute, each made just one save.
With the preseason complete, Northern Illinois now turns its attention to the regular season opener Friday, Aug. 24, when the Huskies travel to meet third-ranked Creighton. Game time between the Huskies and Blue Jays is set for 7 p.m.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.