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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Men’s soccer defeats Bowling Green in MVC Tournament quarterfinals

Scott Walstrom
Senior goalkeeper Jakub Rojek roams in front of the net during an NIU men’s soccer home game. Rojek recorded a career-high 11 saves en route to a 2-1 victory over Bowling Green State University in the quarterfinals of the MVC Tournament on Sunday. (Scott Walstrom | NIU Athletics)

In a win-or-go home situation, senior goalkeeper Jakub Rojek’s career-high 11 saves pushed the NIU men’s soccer team to a 2-1 win against the Bowling Green State University Falcons, sending the Huskies to the MVC Tournament semifinals. 

In the 12th minute, a foul was called on NIU junior defender Ben Suddeth. Junior midfielder Alberto Anaya stepped up to take the penalty for the Falcons. Rojek came up big for NIU, following the ball to the right and making a huge save to prevent the Huskies from being behind early on. 

In the 57th minute, Huskie senior midfielder Diego Maynez found the back of the net after pulling Bowling Green senior goalkeeper Brendan Graves away from the goal. Less than 10 minutes later in the 63rd minute, senior midfielder Camilo Estrada scored what would end up being the game winner. 

Graves was drawn off his line when junior forward Zachariah Thomas sent the ball to senior midfielder Patrick Coleman. Coleman found Estrada, who slipped the ball into the net.

With less than 10 minutes left in the match, senior defender Kyle Cusimano sent one past Rojek, saving Bowling Green from being shut out. The header from Cusimano went to the upper left of the goal, past the reach of Rojek. 

The Huskies were outshot 14-24, with the Falcons holding a 12-7 advantage in shots on goal. 

Rojek gave credit to the defense and coaching staff. 

“They’ve been doing a great job of winning 50-50s, of getting in front of the ball, putting their bodies on the line,” Rojek said. “I get credit for the saves; but a lot of the time, they don’t get the credit for making the blocks. They’ve been a big part of a lot of the results recently. I have to give credit to Coach Nick (Roman), he does film on some of the penalty takers. I do have some knowledge and some information on some of the penalty takers. We discussed what we wanted to do if there was a penalty, and we executed it. I have to give credit to him too.”

Estrada created 4 shots in the match, with 2 shots on goal. He explained the team approach and energy throughout the game.

“It was a grind from the beginning,” Estrada said. “I thought the team bought into the plan. We have to give props to Jakub (Rojek) for making a great save early in the game, that just got us going. I felt like the team came into the second half with the mentality and the eagerness to get out with the results. Thankfully, Diego (Maynez) was able to get his goal, and then I got mine.”

NIU men’s soccer head coach Ryan Swan explained the preparation for this match. 

“I think it was good that we played Bowling Green just a few days ago,” Swan said. “We got to see the things that worked then and the things that needed to be a little bit better. There wasn’t a whole lot of training between the two games. We got one light session and one day where Ronnie (Bouemboue) got to identify some of the things that we could take advantage of. I can’t praise these guys enough for how well they took the information in and stuck to the game plan.”

The No. 5 seed Huskies take on No.1 seed Western Michigan University at 1 p.m Wednesday at the WMU Soccer Complex in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The game will be streamed on ESPN+

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