A 35th minute goal from Anthony Smith Jr., was enough to give the Bulldogs the victory in a tight match that featured just five total shots on target.
“Butler is a good team and we played okay, the game just came down to two moments,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. “We have a misclearance and they punish it, we have a breakaway and we don’t finish, that’s the game. If we don’t have the misclearance, they don’t score and its 0-0 at halftime. They are a good team, there were stretches where they had us under, but there were long stretches where we had them under and we created some good chances.”
Butler (4-0-1) had the first chance of the contest as Vincent Mitchell sent a shot just high of redshirt sophomore Andrew Glaeser (Walla Walla, Wash./Walla Walla/Oregon State) in goal for the Huskies.
The first opportunity for NIU (1-4-0) in the contest fell to sophomore Kyle Crichton (Ajax, Ontario, Canada/Pickering) as he collected a ball just outside the top of the box and whistled a shot over the Butler goal.
In the 32nd minute, Jordan Burt tested Glaeser from well outside the box with a shot that the Huskie goalkeeper easily collected. Glaeser finished the contest with a pair of saves.
Smith opened the scoring for the Bulldogs in the 35th minute. After NIU couldn’t clear the ball from the box, Zach Steinberger touched the ball over to Smith with slotted it past Glaeser from 10 yards out.
The Huskies had their best chance to equalize in the 41st minute through junior Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy). Sophomore Charlie Oliver (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake South) played a ball in behind the Bulldog defense into the path of Kannah who collected and went in alone on goal. From just inside the box, Kannah fired a shot that forced a good save from Butler goalkeeper Jon Dawson and helped the Bulldogs take their 1-0 lead into the intermission.
Following the interval, Butler had the first second half chance as Austin Oldham forced a save from Glaeser on a shot from 20 yards in the 49th minute.
NIU’s first look in the second half came from sophomore Bertrand Gaschot (Austin, Texas/Westwood) in the 51st minute. Gaschot did well to get a header on goal from a right-wing cross, but his effort was collected by Dawson.
In the 76th minute, the Huskies had what would be their last good chance of the match as Kannah got around Dawson and tried to slip the ball into the net from a tight angle, but the angle proved too tight and Kannah’s chance slid just outside the near post.
Northern Illinois will return to action at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, when the Huskies host UW Green Bay in the final match of the NIU adidas Invitational. Butler and Northwestern will square off in the opening game of the day at 11 a.m.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.