Close contest with Cougars; NIU takes win

By Carl Ackerman

Although it was not easy, NIU played with the competitive endurance of a first-place team by outlasting conference foe Southern Illinois_Edwardsville on Sunday.

Per Ekholdt headed in two goals, and Todd Moore and Willy Roy Jr. added one each to lead the Huskies to a 4-3 victory. The win boosts their record to 6-1-1 overall and 3-0-0 in Big Central Soccer Conference action.

While NIU sits on the throne of the conference standings, SIU-E slips to 1-3 and 7-3 overall.

“We’ve won two out of three so that makes me extremely proud of our players,” said Coach Willy Roy, whose team stopped SIU-E’s five-game winning streak. “We’re a very dangerous team offensively. We just got to put our heads together. Overall, when you beat SIU-E you’re doing a good job.”

NIU began the day by doing more than a good job when Ekholdt received two picture perfect passes and buried the ball in the net both times for a 2-0 lead.

Ekholdt’s first goal was set up by Frank Sparacino, who lofted the ball high and to the center from the left side. Ekholdt made the connection complete from 10 yards out with 8:38 gone.

Just over 10 minutes later, Ekholdt banged in his second from 15 yards out when Jim Corno hustled down the right side and set him up with a skillful pass.

“It was a beautiful pass,” said Ekholdt. “The goalie was way out in the middle, and I shot it in to the right side.”

However, the Cougars didn’t let up. Thirty-five seconds later Joe Reiniger headed one in from seven yards out to cut NIU’s lead to 2-1 at the half.

Although the Cougars only had two shots on goal in the first half, NIU goalie Markus Roy was tested often with heavy pressure around the net.

“It was difficult for Markus to come out and catch a lot of stuff because there were too many bodies in the penalty box. He’s been our big plus,” said Roy Sr.

Markus Roy had a somewhat different philosophy of the game.

“I thought it was going to be a lot worse considering (SIU-E) were a much better team with a record of 7-2,” said Markus Roy.

owever, the sophomore goalie shares similar feelings with his coach about NIU’s performance.

“Offensively, we played a great game, but we have to work on our overall defense,” said Markus Roy.

With 61:07 gone, NIU’s Todd Moore connected for his third goal of the season from seven yards out to put the Huskies in control 3-1. John Kelly and Roy Jr. assisted on the goal.

“I’m disappointed in the outcome, but not in the way we played,” said Cougar coach Ed Huneke. “You got to give them credit for scoring when they’re chances came. Capitalizing on the chances is the name of the game.”