Welch at his best as Huskies win away game at West Virginia


By Araya Benegas

DeKALB — Junior midfielder Alex Welch scored the Huskies’ final two goals Friday to help secure a 4-2 win against West Virginia University. 

Welch and senior forward Jan Maertins were outstanding at picking their spots to attack. Head Coach Ryan Swan said Welch’s play was excellent.

“We ask a lot from [Welch] on [the offense],” Swan said. “For him to put in all that work today, it was huge for the win.”

Welch led the team with two goals and two assists, and put three shots on target. NIU was able to capitalize on most of its scoring opportunities, hitting four goals in eight shots. 

Senior midfielder Ethan Pitre scored the Huskies’ first goal 31 minutes in to open the scoring. Welch flicked a header behind the defense, where Pitre was able to win a one-on-one against WVU junior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky for the goal.

The Mountaineers responded a minute later with a goal from first-year forward Rodrigo Robles Grajera. Grajera’s initial shot was blocked by Martin Sanchez, redshirt first-year goalkeeper. The block had Sanchez out of the play, letting Grajera and the ball get behind him. Grajera’s goal tied the game at 1-1.

In the second half, NIU’s offense outperformed the Mountaineers, securing the game with three goals, including Welch’s two goals.

Sophomore forward Nick Markanich scored his sixth goal of the season to put NIU up 2-1 with 54 minutes on the clock. Welch out-muscled a defender downfield before his shot was blocked by Tekesky. Markanich was able to score 10-yards out, after retrieving the rebound from Welch’s missed shot.

WVU levelled the score once again, with a goal from senior defender Ryan Kellogg, who scored at the 57th minute with a header, making the game a tight 2-2 contest. Senior defender Albert Andres-Llop set up the play by sending a cross to Kellog for an assist.

At the 70th minute, Welch scored his first goal of the game off a deflection from Tekesky. Tekesky dove to deflect Markanich’s shot outside the box. The deflection went straight to Welch who was there to score, putting the Huskies up 3-2.

Welch then put the game away with his second goal coming near the end of the second half. Once Welch received a pass from sophomore midfielder Louis Sala, Welch pushed the ball down the field and beat Tekesky on a one-on-one to score his third goal in the season.

This win gives NIU its first win in Mid-American Conference this season, leaving its conference record at 1-1.

This victory is also NIU’s first conference road win since 2005, when the Huskies beat Bowling Green State University 1-0 in overtime on Oct. 3.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”center” content=”<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-6c9d50d4-7fff-09d5-e26e-7da07d180c21"><span>“Every game is huge,” Swan said. “With West Virginia losing last week, it was very important [to get this win] for the standings.”</span></span></p>” id=”e6e6ff9c-a374-4f36-8a87-d164ff90d819″ style-type=”quote” title=”Head Coach Ryan Swan” type=”relcontent” width=”full”}}

The Huskies will be back on the field 6 p.m. Friday against Western Michigan University at the NIU Soccer and Track and Field Complex. Friday’s match against WMU will be NIU’s last home game of the regular season.