Huskies clinch conference title

By Hyun Moon

It wasn’t supposed to happen, but the NIU soccer team captured the Mid-Continent championship in its league debut.

The Huskies clinched the title by beating Wisconsin-Green Bay 2-1 with Willy Roy Jr. scoring the game-winning goal with 51 seconds remaining in the match. Roy took a free-kick pass from Todd Moore and bombed it from 22 yards out past Phoenix goalie Dan Sosznski.

Green Bay head coach Aldo Santaga said the free kick should never have been allowed. Moore was pushed by a UW-GB defender, but Santaga said there was no foul. “I’m very upset. NIU scored off two fouls when there were no fouls. It cost us the game,” he said.

The Huskies were coming off a 3-0 loss to Saint Louis. The season was not a total loss with the Huskies capturing the M-C Championship. “I’m extremly proud of our guys,” NIU boss Willy Roy said. “It shows what type of a year Willy Jr. is having, and Markus (Roy) kept us in the game earlier with his big saves.”

The M-C Championship came as a surprise to Roy as well. He said he thought that with Akron and Cleveland State in the conference NIU would likely be third, but the Huskies got the key conference wins over both teams earlier in the year.

The clinching win did not come easy for the Huskies. In their third match in five days, the Huskies showed a lack of concentration early in the match. Just 15 minutes into the game, the NIU defense allowed Phoenix forward Mark Bogan to break away, but Bogan missed wide right.

Then NIU defender Frank Sparacino teased the fans with a shot that went into the net, but went wide right. After a scoreless half, the Phoenix took advantage of a non-offsides call to take a 1-0 lead five minutes into the second half. Bayete Smith beat Markus Roy on a one-on-one confrontation.

The Huskies tied the score on their next opportunity. Huskies midfielder John Lechner took a loose ball from midfield and drove down to the right sideline. He was pushed in front of the goalie box. On the free-kick Roy Jr. found senior defender Tony Adolfs in front of the Phoenix goal. Adolfs easily pounded it in. “I snuck in front of the goalie and Willy found me. Then I just knocked it in,” Adolfs said. It was the first goal of the year for Adolfs and fourth of his career.

The Phoenix had the better scoring opportunities, but none of their shots threatend NIU. With seven minutes remaining in the game, Govin had another breakaway. He was alone until NIU defender Dusty Showers made a mad dash at him. Govin rushed the shot and missed wide right.

It was the last home match for Huskies seniors Roy Jr., Adolfs, Tim Spiegel, Walid Fikri, Dave Pacwa, and James Ehrlich. “It’s pretty obvious how much they have meant to the team,” Roy said.

Next Saturday’s match will end the Roy-Roy Jr. coach-player relationship—at least in NIU. But Roy Jr. said it will not be the last match for the Roy’s coach-player relationship. “I think our roads will connect again somewhere down the line. He’s been coaching me for seven to eight years now, and I’d hate to think that it’s all over,” Roy Jr. said.