Junior Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy) scored a pair of goals and junior Dusty Page (Germantown, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) scored the first goal of his collegiate career at the Northern Illinois University men’s soccer team ran past Eastern Illinois, 3-0, on Tuesday night in the first night game held at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex.
“It was a pretty good performance for our guys, not outstanding but pretty good,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi.
“To be fair, Eastern Illinois is better than their record indicates. They are a team that is capable of scoring a lot of goals, they had scored in every game this season coming into tonight, so the fact that we got the clean sheet is a good statement of what we are capable of defensively.
“We limited their chances and on the ball we were pretty efficient. We didn’t create a ton of shots, but the ones we did were good chances. We were pretty clinical and got the just reward.”
Eastern Illinois (1-10-2) had the first chance of the contest as a long distance shot from Jake Brillhart was easily saved by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Glaeser (Walla Walla, Wash./Walla Walla/Oregon State) in the fifth minute.
The first chance for NIU (4-9-0) fell to junior Jayson LeSeth (Des Plaines, Ill./Maine West) in the 15th, but his shot from 25 yards was held by Eastern Illinois goalkeeper Ben Feltes.
The Huskies broke the deadlock in the 24th minute on Kannah’s fourth goal of the season. After taking the ball off the foot of a Panther defender inside the box, Kannah took a pair of dribbles and fired a shot past Feltes inside the far post to give the Huskies a 1-0 advantage.
Page had a chance to double the lead in the 38th minute. NIU won a free kick in midfield and Page rose highest, heading the free kick just wide.
NIU did double its lead just before the intermission.
Freshman Cody Witkowski (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) did well to work his way down the right wing before clipping a cross toward Kannah in the box. Kannah got a glancing header on it, tucking the ball just inside the post to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead in the 45th minute.
The goal was the ninth for Kannah in his NIU career.
“His first one shows what Isaac can do,” said Luzzi of Kannah’s goals. “He caught the guy napping on the ball, picked it off, gave himself a good chance and buried it. On the second goal, his movement in the box on Cody’s service was fantastic. It was a great service and a great finish, it was a good day for Isaac for sure.”
After halftime, Eastern Illinois had the first good chance of the second half as Colin Rook’s header went just wide off a corner in the 61st minute.
The Huskies made it a three-goal advantage in the 63rd minute on Page’s first career goal. LeSeth served a dangerous corner inside the Panther six-yard box and Page powered home a header to give NIU a 3-0 lead.
Just a minute later, Glaeser made his best save of the match, getting a fingertip to a shot by Jake Plant to push it just around the post. Glaeser finished the match with five saves and picked up his second shutout of the season.
“It was awesome,” Luzzi said of the first night game at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex. “We had a pretty good crowd, the atmosphere was good. We have waited a long time for this night and it came together really well. The guys enjoyed it and it was a great night.”
NIU will return to the road Saturday, Oct. 26, when the Huskies travel to Akron, Ohio, to face the Zips. Game time at Akron is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.