Despite playing down a man for nearly 60 minutes, the Northern Illinois men’s soccer team held off No. 14 Saint Louis until the 105th minute when Kingsley Bryce scored a double overtime game-winner for the Billikens in the Cincinnati Bearcat Soccer Classic.
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Glaeser (Walla Walla, Wash./Walla Walla/Oregon State) made six saves in goal for the Huskies.
“I don’t want this to sound like sour grapes and I don’t want to take anything away from Saint Louis because they are a fantastic team, a legitimate Top 10 team. But the referee affected the game in a negative manner that potentially had a hand in the final result of the game,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi.
“The red card should not have been a red card, so we were left with 10 guys for almost 60 minutes. The guys that played were absolute warriors and I have not been prouder of a group since I have been at NIU.”
Junior Andrew Palumbo (Ft. Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot/Darton College) had the first attempt of the contest, firing a shot high of goal in the 19th minute. The Huskies had a flurry of chances following Palumbo’s first shot of the game as junior Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy) saw his effort blocked and junior Shawn Vroom (Kohler, Wis./Kohler) shot wide in the 21st minute.
Glaeser was called upon for the first time in the 27th minute with a save off a header from Bryce. The stop was the only one required by either goalkeeper in the first half as the teams split eight shots evenly in the opening 45 minutes, with just one on target.
Just over two minutes into the second half the Billikens nearly opened the scoring as Robert Kristo hit the post.
The game changed in the 53rd minute when the Huskies went down to 10 men as senior James Stevenson (Falkirk, Scotland/St. Mungo’s) was sent off for a red card.
Glaeser was forced to make a save off a shot from Raymond Kee in the 65th minute. Five minutes later, senior Sean Totsch (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) had a chance on the other end with a header, but his effort was saved by Billiken goalkeeper Nick Shackelford.
Freshman Chris Bernard (Langley, England/Chalfonts) fired a shot high in the 74th minute and Kannah had an effort blocked in the 89th as the game headed to overtime.
Sophomore Kyle Crichton (Ajax, Ontario, Canada/Pickering) had the first chance of the extra session as he fired over the bar in the 93rd minute. Saint Louis had one chance in the first overtime as well as Alex Sweetin’s 96th minute attempt went wide. In the second overtime, Saint Louis came close to getting the winner as Tyler David hit the post with a header in the 103rd minute. The pressure kept coming from Saint Louis and the Billikens finally got the breakthrough in the 105th minute on Kingsley’s goal, assisted by Sweetin and Kristo.
Glaeser and freshman Cody Witkowski (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) were named to the Cincinnati Bearcat Soccer Classic All-Tournament Team.
Northern Illinois will return to action next weekend as it hosts the NIU adidas Invitational. The Huskies will face Butler in the home opener at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, at the NIU Soccer & Track and Field Complex. Northwestern and UW Green Bay will meet in the tournament’s first game at 2 p.m.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.