Overtime losses bury men’s soccer in weekend matches

By Jacob Onak

It was a weekend of tough overtime periods for the men’s soccer team at the Cincinnati Bearcat Soccer Classic.

On Friday, a Huskies (1-3-0) comeback wasn’t enough to get the win against the Evansville Purple Aces, who took the match just two minutes into overtime.

After going down 2-0 early in the first half, NIU made it 2-2 in the same half with a goal from junior Isaac Kannah, and a first career goal from freshman Cody Witkowski.

After an exciting first half, the second half was a tighter game, with no goals being scored, and the two teams heading into overtime.

In the 92nd minute, a goal from Evansville forward Faik Hajderovic gave the Purple Aces their first win of the season.

“I thought that a lot of our guys didn’t show up today, which is disappointing because we had a good week of training,” said head coach Eric Luzzi in a news release. “There have been a lot of things that we have done well in the last week or two that made me excited about today.”

On Sunday, NIU took on No. 14 St. Louis Billikens. It had to play with 10 men for most of the second half and the overtime periods.

A 52nd-minute red card that was given to senior forward James Stevenson put a little pressure on a scoreless affair for the Huskies.

By the end of regular time it was 0-0 and the Huskies went into extra time once again.

This time the Huskies seemed like they were going to pull out a draw, but in the second overtime period, the 104th minute, Kingsley Bryce gave St. Louis the win as he pounced on a blocked shot and buried it in the back of the net.

Luzzi was frustrated with the hand the Huskies were dealt in the second half.

“The truth is the referee made a terrible call,” Luzzi said. “…He gave one of our guys a red card that absolutely did not deserve a red card so we had to play the last 60 minutes with 11 vs. 10, and we’re playing the No. [14] team in the country. [Our guys] battled and they fought and they scraped.

“When we were 11 vs. 11 the game was even. We had more chances in the first half than they did. The gameplan was right, our guys executed it perfectly … I’m proud of the guys and I’m disappointed for them.”