Men’s soccer ends year with 3-3 draw at home

By Jacob Onak

Men’s soccer finished off a disappointing year with a 3-3 draw against the University of Buffalo Saturday.

On Senior Night, it was the team’s three seniors who stepped up offensively for the Huskies (4-13-1, 0-5-1 MAC).

“I was happy for our three seniors, the three field players that scored a goal,” said head coach Eric Luzzi. “It’s unfair for those four guys that people will look at our record because I think it’s not an accurate statement of the team, the group that we have this year. We did, we do, have a very good group, and the margins are really, really, really slim.”

The Huskies came out of the gates and put the Bulls’ (3-11-4, 1-4-1 MAC) backline to the test. With good chances in the first half, it was NIU that struck first.

Junior left back Shawn Vroom found open space on the left flank and fired a low cross across the box that senior Gael Rivera buried on the back post. It was Rivera’s first goal of the year after missing most of the season recovering from a torn ACL. Rivera also played a season-high 72 minutes in his final match as a Huskie.

Just one minute later another senior stepped up for the Huskies. Forward James Stevenson found yet another cross from Vroom and buried it home in the 6-yard box to put his team up 2-0.

Buffalo wouldn’t go down without a fight though scoring two quick goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half.

In the 37th minute, forward Marcus Hanson finished off a nice counterattack for the Bulls, and just three minutes later Braden Scales pounced on a rebound given up by NIU goalkeeper Miles Herbert to tie the match 2-2.

“I thought we were unfortunate to concede a couple of goals,” Stevenson said. “In the first half of the first half we dominated the game, we were 2-0 up, comfortable, and then we took our foot off the pedal a bit and they punished us with two quick goals. I thought we fought to come back and it showed our character….”

In the second half it was Buffalo that struck first.

At the top of the 18-yard box Russell Cicerone let rip a beautiful curling strike that substitute goalkeeper Andrew Glaeser had no chance to stop, giving his team the 3-2 lead in the 73rd minute.

In the 85th minute, NIU was awarded a penalty kick, which senior captain Sean Totsch buried to tie the match 3-3.

“We went up early with those two goals and we kind of let off the gas a bit and let them come back in the game,” Totsch said. “We had a couple of mistakes by guys that let them get those two goals, and then they kind of took momentum from us, and the rest of the game we were fighting back to get a result.”

The three senior goals were enough to ensure the 3-3 draw as both teams were unable to convert their chances in overtime.

NIU ends the year winless in the MAC and says goodbye to Rivera, Totsch, Stevenson and Herbert as it turns to the offseason in preparations for the 2014 season.