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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Offense sputters in Huskies’ loss to Memphis

Huskies manage just one shot in first half during defeat to Tigers
Courtesy NIU Athletics
Sophomore midfielder Angel Rodriguez guides the ball at the NIU Soccer and Track and Field Complex on Aug. . Rodriguez scored the lone goal against University of Memphis. (Photo courtesy of NIU Athletics)

DeKALB A lack of offensive opportunities plagued NIU men’s soccer (1-1), contributing to its first loss of the season at the hands of the University of Memphis (2-0) Tigers by a final score of 3-1 Sunday at the NIU Soccer and Track and Field Complex. 

The Tigers’ junior-forward duo of Jose Maria Ojeda and Lineker Rodrigues dos Santos connected for two of Memphis’ three tallies, both scored by Rodrigues dos Santos and assisted by Ojeda. 

The third Tiger goal came off the head of senior defender Jackson Kim after a Memphis long throw.


The Huskies struggled to find any offense in the first half, posting just one shot – zero on goal – in the first half. 

“I just didn’t think we had very many players working to run towards goal,” said men’s soccer head coach Ryan Swan. “Sometimes we forget that the objective is to try and score rather than just to try and keep the ball. There’s too many players supporting behind the ball rather than the front.” 

The offense showed signs of life in the second half. The Huskies put five shots towards Tigers junior goalkeepers Colin Welsh and JD Gunn in back half, which included a missed penalty kick by junior forward Kevin Kelly.

“We were holding in first half,” sophomore midfielder Angel Rodriguez said. “Late goal to end the half a little spirits down. I think, second half, we came out – they got lucky on a few plays I think. We missed a penalty. We score it, it comes out differently. But that’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

The lone Huskie goal came off the boot of Rodriguez in the 79th minute. 


Memphis peppered Huskie senior goalkeeper Jakub Rojek, who held his squad in the first half with four saves on five shots on goal. 

“He (Rojek) was outstanding in the first half,” Swan said. “He kept us in the game with a couple of huge saves.”

Rodriguez spoke highly of his goalkeeper’s performance and acknowledged the need for the defense around Rojek to be better.

“He held us in (the game) very long,” Rodriguez said. “He commanded his box really well … he asked for the defense, a little bit more effort and then (we) came up short in our defensive side.”

Despite the praise from his team, Rojek said the responsibility for the onslaught of Tigers’ offense falls on the whole team. 

“My goal is to keep the team in it whether it’s one-zero or two-zero,” Rojek said. “Three goals came from mistakes, but it’s not an individual. It’s on the team. So, we’re in this together. So, whatever mistake we make, it’s together.”


Memphis got the scoring started in the 41st minute when a left-side cross from Ojeda found the head of Rodrigues dos Santos.

Ojeda found Rodrigues dos Santos again in the 59th minute off a free kick to give the Tigers a 2-0 advantage. Kim added his goal in the 77th minute to extend the lead to 3-0. 

Rodriguez added his goal two minutes later, but the Tigers ran out the clock to seal the 3-1 victory.


The Huskies have five days to rest before traveling to South Bend to take on the University of Notre Dame on Friday. 

Swan said that even with the loss, the team comes away with lessons heading into a tough matchup.

“The work rate and the sort of commitment to going and winning the ball that Memphis showed,” Swan said. “That desire to go to the ball and not get out-worked is our biggest thing. It’s got to be our focus next week because we know that Notre Dame are a very hard-working team. With all respect to Memphis, I think that Notre Dame will be a level above that.” 

Kickoff for the Huskies game with Notre Dame is at 6 p.m. Friday in South Bend, Indiana. The game will be streamed on the ACC Network Extra with live stats available on StatBroadcast.

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