After coming back from down a goal, the Northern Illinois men’s soccer team fell 2-1 in double overtime on Friday night at UW Green Bay.
Junior midfielder Gael Rivera (Oslo, Norway/WANG Elite Sports Academy) scored for the Huskies in the 69th minute but, despite dominating large stretches of the game, NIU conceded a game-winner in the 102nd minute.
“We talked for five days with our guys about how we expected to have a lot of the ball and expected them to sit a little bit,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi.
“We told our guys the surface was a slow playing surface, that they would sit and let us have the ball. We could not allow ourselves to be lulled into being casual, and that is exactly what happened for the first half and, really, the bulk of the game. Credit to Green Bay, they wanted it more. We need to sort out our approach a little bit.”
Against the run of play, UW Green Bay took a lead in the 64th minute on a goal from Kirby Allen. Cheenuj Shong played a ball from the midfield into the run of Allen who slipped a shot under Jordan Godsey (Ocean Springs, Miss./Ocean Springs) to give the Phoenix a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later the Huskies were level thanks to Rivera. Junior forward James Stevenson (Falkirk, Scotland/St. Mungo’s) played a ball into space for Rivera to latch onto. The Oslo, Norway native made no mistake in clipping a shot into the net past the Green Bay goalkeeper who had come halfway to the ball.
NIU pushed hard for a winner in regulation. Rivera had an opportunity go wide in the 78th minute after being setup by sophomore midfielder Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy). Sophomore midfielder Jayson LeSeth (Des Plaines, Ill./Maine West) had the final good chance of regulation in the 88th minute. LeSeth’s opportunity came off the second ball from a free kick, testing Green Bay goalkeeper Max Nimmo, but Nimmo held well.
In the first extra period, Stevenson had an excellent chance to end it two minutes in. Rivera turned provider to Stevenson alone near the penalty spot but his shot was turned away by Nimmo.
The Phoenix had their first opportunity of overtime in the 96th minute as A.J. Patterson fired a shot harmlessly high of Godsey.
Two minutes into the second overtime, Green Bay earned a free kick in the NIU half of the field. Following the free kick, the ball came wide to Allen for the Phoenix who crossed toward the six-yard box. Alonso Flores climbed highest to the cross to head home a winner for UW Green Bay
Godsey finished with two saves for NIU.
Green Bay had the first chance of the contest in the opening two minutes as Ahmad Bah got in behind the NIU defense and was in alone on Godsey. Bah fired wide of the right post to keep the game scoreless in the early minutes.
The first chance of the match for NIU came in the ninth minute as sophomore defender Dusty Page (Germantown, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) got on the end of a long throw. Page kept his shot low but couldn’t manage to get it through the mass of bodies between him and the goal.
Northern Illinois gained more possession of the ball as the first half went along, but speedy winger Whitney Browne continued to be dangerous for the Phoenix, recording three shots in the opening 45 minutes.
NIU had its best chance of the opening half in the dying moments. Senior defender Pat Sloan (Lisle, Ill./Benet Academy) made a run down the left side, getting to the end line before crossing toward sophomore midfielder Jabari Danzy (Park Forest, Ill./Marian Catholic). Danzy got a foot on the ball but was unable to redirect it into the goal and the contest went to the half scoreless.
The Huskies will return to action next weekend when they make their regular season home debut in the NIU/adidas Invitational. The Huskies will host Rhode Island at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, and will wrap up the tournament by hosting Drake at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.