Men’s soccer uninspired vs. Milwaukee

By Jacob Onak

In its second game under the lights, men’s soccer dropped its 11th match of the season to the UW-Milwaukee Panthers, 1-0.

The Panthers also keep hold of the LeWang Cup, a memorial trophy that is played for each year when the two teams meet.

Even with the trophy on the line, NIU (4-11-0) head coach Eric Luzzi didn’t see a lot of aggressiveness from either team.

“It was miserable,” Luzzi said. “The conditions were miserable; neither team looked like they wanted to be here. You knew it was going to come down to one error because neither team, to be honest, had any initiative to go make anything happen, to go create anything. We made the error, they punished it, they win the game. It’s that simple.”

After a couple of half-chances and some long-range shots by the Huskies, the Panthers (12-2-2) seemed to have the only good chance of the half.

With less than five to play in the half, Milwaukee’s Luke Goodnetter hit a strike from about 20 yards away, which NIU goalie Andrew Glaeser had to parry wide.

In the second half, NIU picked up its offensive pressure, resulting in two good chances.

After about 10 minutes of play, junior midfielder Andrew Palumbo picked up a ball that went through most of the Panthers’ back line and let rip a left-footed shot just inside the 18-yard box; however, Palumbo’s shot went comfortably into the hands of Milwaukee keeper Liam Anderson.

Palumbo continued to cause trouble for Milwaukee as the junior took on a defender on the wing, getting off a low, hard cross that zipped across the 6-yard box only to have junior forward Isaac Kannah put it high and wide.

A surprise in the match came when senior midfielder Gael Rivera made his debut for the Huskies after coming off a torn ACL, which he suffered in the spring. It was thought Rivera would redshirt the season, but the Norway native had other plans.

Quickly after the deadlock broke as Milwaukee’s Laurie Bell picked up his 11th goal of the season. Forward Kostas Kotselas laid off a pass to Bell at the top of the 18-yard box, and Bell made no mistake, one timing the shot low and into the corner of the goal.

Bell’s goal stood and the Panthers won, 1-0.

“We’re happy with the result,” said Panthers head coach Kris Kelderman. “Obviously 1-0, it’s a tough night, the elements are playing a big part of the game, and it was a game that could have went either way. We took our chances better than they did. Fortunately for us Laurie had a great goal in my eyes, and we’re just happy with the result.”

NIU now turns its focus to MAC opponent Hartwick, a team that sits in fourth place out of seven in the MAC standing.

The Huskies sit in dead last in the MAC and are the only team not to record a win in the conference. Senior defender Sean Totsch said this is a do-or-die game as time is running out for NIU.

“Yeah, it definitely is,” Totsch said. “We need to win out basically the last three games to make the conference tournament and prove to ourselves this was not a waste of a season.”