Late Akron heroics down men’s soccer

By Jacob Onak

In an effort to get its first conference win of the season, men’s soccer fell to Akron 2-1 on Saturday at Akron.

The Huskies (4-10, 0-3 MAC) continue to sit in last place in the MAC standings and are the only team that has not recorded a win in conference play.

On Saturday it was No. 18 Akron that struck first.

Freshman Adam Najem collected a cross from Saad Abdul-Salaam in the 12-yard box and buried the shot home to give the Zips the lead in the 12th minute.

Najem’s goal was the 20th given up by the Huskies’ defense this season, and the ninth in the first half.

NIU responded in the 15th minute, as junior striker Isaac Kannah continued his form from the Eastern Illinois match on Tuesday.

Kannah ran down the left side past the Akron defense to slide home a shot past Zips goalie Fernando Pina. This was Kannah’s sixth goal of the season, which gives him the team lead, and his third in the last two games.

The 15th-minute goal was not only the first goal NIU had scored against Akron since Oct. 24, 2006, but also the first first-half goal Akron had let up since Sept. 15.

Head coach Eric Luzzi said Kannah is starting to be the go-to guy for the Huskies.

“Isaac was a handful tonight,” Luzzi said in a news release. “I’m happy for him, that he is at the point where he is realizing his responsibility to be a threat all the time. We saw today how much they had to respect him and how much of a threat he was throughout the game.”

The Huskies continued to battle throughout the game but neither team could break the deadlock until the 76th minute.

On Senior Day, senior Robbie Derschang picked up his first goal of the season. This time it was goal scorer Najem playing the provider as he found Derschange around the top of the box. Derschange took a quick touch and hit a shot that went past NIU goalie Andrew Glaeser.

Derschang’s goal proved to be the game winner for Akron, as the game ended 2-1, and was the 21st goal let in by the Huskies this season.

Luzzi said despite the loss, he was proud of his players.

“I thought we had a good game plan,” Luzzi said in a news release. “The guys stuck to it well. We severely limited their quality chances and created a number of good ones for ourselves.

“Credit to them, in other games they have created a lot more than they did tonight and struggled to finish, but tonight they hit the post and had the two goals, outside of that they didn’t have much else in terms of quality chances.”