Trailing 1-0 at the half, the Northern Illinois men’s soccer team earned a 2-1 comeback victory over UW Green Bay on Sunday afternoon in the final game of the NIU adidas Invitational.
“When we came in at halftime there was definitely a mopey feel,” said NIU men’s soccer head coach Eric Luzzi.
“Probably a lack of belief and high frustration. We just told the guys to take a breath, get back to the things you know work, play simple, don’t complicate it and just believe. Believe that if we the get first one, which we did, we could keep pressing and get a second one, which we did and I’m really happy for the guys.”
Playing in rainy conditions throughout the contest, Northern Illinois (2-4-0) had the first chance in the 20th minute as senior James Stevenson (Falkirk, Scotland/St. Mungo’s) fed a ball to junior Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy) who pulled a shot across goal and just wide of the post.
Just two minutes later, UW Green Bay (3-2-1) took the lead through Lawrence Tallery. Tallery pounced on a misplay inside the NIU six-yard box and tapped the ball into an empty net to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.
The Phoenix looked to double the lead in the 35th minute off a corner, but Sam Krenzien’s header went wide and Green Bay went into the half with a 1-0 lead.
Immediately after the intermission the Huskies went on the attack. Just three minutes after the interval Kannah fired a shot from near the top of the box off the crossbar. Following up on the rebound, sophomore Bertrand Gaschot (Austin, Texas/Westwood) saw his header go wide.
In the 50th minute, sophomore Charlie Oliver (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake South) had a chance to even the match. Freshman Cody Witkowski (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) played a cross in toward Oliver who had a look at goal but was smothered by Phoenix goalkeeper Kyle Ihn.
NIU pulled level in the 56th minute. From a corner kick, the ball came to Oliver at the top of the box; he played a pass across to Totsch who took a shot that found its way through the bodies in front of goal and into the net for the tying goal. The goal was the first of the season for Totsch and the fifth of his NIU career.
Just four minutes later the Huskies took the lead through LeSeth. After NIU earned a foul 35 yards from goal, LeSeth floated the ensuing free kick into the six-yard box. Ihn came to claim it for Green Bay but the floated ball sailed just over his outstretched arms and into the back of the net. For LeSeth the goal was his first of the season and his fourth all-time as a Huskie.
Now trailing by a goal, Green Bay pushed the game for much of the final 30 minutes.
The Phoenix had a chance to equalize in the 68th minute as Krenzien headed the ball off the post before it was cleared away for a corner by the NIU defense.
Green Bay earned three corners in the final 20 minutes but never threatened redshirt sophomore Andrew Glaeser (Walla Walla, Wash./Walla Walla/Oregon State) in goal as the Huskies prevailed for the 2-1 victory.
Totsch and Kannah were named to the all-tournament team for the Huskies; Northwestern’s Joey Calistri was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as the Wildcats won the NIU adidas Invitational with victories over Green Bay and Butler.
Northern Illinois will return to action Friday, Sept. 20, when the Huskies travel to the Northwestern Lakeside Classic in Evanston, Ill. NIU will take on 22nd-ranked Fairleigh Dickinson at 5 p.m.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.