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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Men’s soccer eliminated from MVC Tournament

Broncos tally twice in extra time
Senior goalkeeper Jakub Rojek stands in the goal ready to block a shot. Rojek turned away 9 Western Michigan shots in mens soccers 3-1 loss in the MVC semifinals on Wednesday in Kalamazoo. (Scott Walstrom | NIU Athletics)
Scott Walstrom
Senior goalkeeper Jakub Rojek stands in the goal ready to block a shot. Rojek turned away 9 Western Michigan shots in men’s soccer’s 3-1 loss in the MVC semifinals on Wednesday in Kalamazoo. (Scott Walstrom | NIU Athletics)

After heading to extra time, NIU men’s soccer was defeated 3-1 by Western Michigan University in the semifinals of the MVC Tournament, ending its season. 

The Huskies struck first in the 63rd minute. Junior forward Zachariah Thomas found the back of the net off the pass from fifth-year midfielder Braeden Beard. 

The Huskies held off Western Michigan’s offense until the 82nd minute, when senior forward Charlie Sharp scored the equalizer. Western Michigan scored again in each of the overtime periods. Redshirt junior defender Jonathan Robinson scored in the 99th minute, and Sharp added another goal in the 103rd minute. 

The Huskies were outshot 10-40 and created only 2 shots on goal.

Thomas explained what was lacking for the offense and the effort of the team. 

“I think we did all that we could,” Thomas said. “For the goal especially, Braeden (Beard) played it right to my feet at the edge of the six, and I just focused on getting good contact to get into the back of the net. I think we just need more of that. A little bit more runs going forward and a little bit more of a desire to get forward. Other than that, the team fought really hard, and we put everything on the line today.” 

NIU men’s soccer head coach Ryan Swan said the offensive struggles of Wednesday’s game were a microcosm of the whole season. 

“I really think the game was a continuation of what the season has been for us,” Swan said. “Giving up far too many shots. After the goal, I thought we had a good spell, but after that as Western was pressing more and more on us, it just seemed like our composure was never quiet there. I never really felt like we got control of the game.”

Senior goalkeeper Jakub Rojek continued to perform in big moments for NIU, making 9 saves in the match. He credited the defense and their help against a powerful offense. 

“(Senior defender) Dylan (Banker) had an amazing performance,” Rojek said. “There were multiple times where he put his head and his body in front of it, just being brave. Same thing for the rest of my defense as well – putting their bodies in front of it, blocking the corner. Just the commitment they all had and the desire to win the ball. That helped me a lot with making the saves.”

Swan praised Rojek for a season full of stellar performances.

“The bright spot has always been Jakub’s performances,” Swan said. “He’s been phenomenal – again today. Just so many saves throughout the whole match. I think he was No. 4 in the country for saves per game going into this one, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s in the top three now. He was outstanding again.”

The Huskies conclude their season with an overall record of 7-9-1 and a conference record of 3-4-1. 

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