VALPARAISO, IND.—NIU’s second half domination boosted the Huskies soccer team to a tough 3-2 decision over Valparaiso University.
The lackadaisical NIU defense gave up an unassisted goal to Valpo forward David Lindenberg just 12 minutes into the game. “The conditions made us ripe for an upset,” Huskies boss Willy Roy said. “We have to learn that people are not going to roll over for us just because we’re NIU.”
“It was the worst our defense played this whole year,” he said. “We had four defenders going up against their two forwards. And, their forwards ran all around us.”
The win raises NIU’s record to 11-4-2 and drops Valpo to 4-10. The Huskies defense was in turmoil early in the game. The Crusader forwards dribbled around in front of the Huskies goal at will. Roy was upset with the NIU defenders, but he was also upset with the officiating. NIU was ticketed 10 times for offsides, some appeared unjustified. The Huskies were also denied a goal when offensive midfielder John Lechner kicked a 10-yard bomb from the right side. Crusader goalie Rich Naden caught it in his arms, but it squirted out behind him over the goal line. But, the line judge was out of position to make the call. Valpo midfielder No. 21 Brian Thiel was also yellow-carded twice, but he was not charged with the first yellow card. His teammate, No. 22 Lindenberg, was credited with the first yellow.
The Huskies came out gunning in the second half. NIU defender Tim Scarnato tied the match with a running cross shot to his left side just two minutes into the second half. Huskies forward Willy Roy Jr. gave NIU the lead with a 20-yard free-kick between the Valpo defense and under Naden. Lechner gave NIU the win with a diving header off a Roy Jr. pass.
Valparaiso scored its second goal with 12:38 left in the match when Thiel, with his third life, made a perfect cross-field pass to Lindenberg who knocked it in to an open goal.
Eighth-year coach Danny Jeftick said the Huskies took his young Crusader squad for granted. “They (NIU) took us too lightly,” he said. “We have eight freshmen on our team. They’re an enthused group, but I don’t think our marking was very good.”
Looking at the brighter sider, Roy said the team’s poor performance Wednesday might motivate them for their battle with the No. 11 team in the nation—Saint Louis University—this Friday. The Huskies also just need a victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay to clinch the Mid-Continent Confererence title.