Two early goals enough to put out men’s soccer in MAC opener

By Quentin Wilson

DeKALB — Comeback wins are difficult, and that proved to be the case Tuesday when the Huskies conceded two goals eight minutes into the match against the Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville Cougars. The Huskies opened Mid-American Conference play with a tough 2-1 loss Saturday at the Soccer and Track and Field Complex.

“This is a game that we should have won, [but] we got off to a poor start [in] the first 15 to 20 minutes,” Head Coach Ryan Swan said. “Our decision-making on the ball was bad. The two goals we gave up were very disappointing. From 2-0 down, it is going to be difficult fighting your way back. I think the game was lost in those first 20 minutes.”

SIUE sophomore midfielder Steven Bibas scored the first goal of the game just before the four-minute mark. Senior midfielder Jorge Gonzalez earned an assist, gaining control of the ball from a deflection. Drawing NIU goalkeeper Martin Sanchez away, Gonzalez passed to Bibas who was able to score.

Although Sanchez faced 12 total shots, SIUE put only five shots on frame, while Sanchez posted three saves.

Three minutes later, the Cougars were able to score with a header off a corner kick. Joergen Pettersen started the play with a corner kick from the right side. Gonzalez soared over everybody for a strong header to put the Cougars up 2-0.

The Huskies scored 12 minutes in, with senior forward Jan Maertins scoring a header of his own. Junior midfielder Alex Welch assisted with a cross from the right side.

SIUE led at the half with a 2-1 lead. The first half saw three goals within the first 12 minutes. The second half was a different story, as neither team was able to score.

“[SIUE] recognized the magnitude of the first conference game,” Swan said. “We were slow to step into that. I thought we were the better team for large stretches of this game.”

NIU had the most chances to score, outshooting the Cougars 9-3.

Sophomore forward Nick Markanich had the greatest chances to score, letting off three shots in the second half.

Markanich overshot a potential tying goal, and missed another chance after receiving a pass from sophomore defender Pierce Ugarte. Markanich’s shot was stopped by SIUE junior goalkeeper Noah Helm, who replaced the starter sophomore Lluis Martorell, who injured his knee early in the half.

Between Martorell and Helm, the Cougars tallied six shots on NIU’s seven total shots on goal.

NIU’s record drops to 5-7-1 and 0-1 in the MAC, while SIUE’s rises to 7-3-1 and 1-0 in conference.

The Huskies will travel to Morgantown, West Virginia in their next matchup against another conference foe, West Virginia University. Kickoff is 6 p.m. Friday at Dick Dlesck Soccer Stadium.