Men’s soccer bounces back vs. St. Mary’s

By Jacob Onak

After a heartbreaking loss Friday, the men’s soccer team got its third win of the season against St. Mary’s Sunday.

Friday, the Huskies (3-5-0) took on Fairleigh Dickinson and it was junior midfielder Isaac Kannah who gave NIU its lead in the 21st minute. Kannah took a ball from sophomore Bertrand Gaschot as he was making a darting run and slipped it past the goalkeeper to make the match 1-0.

In the second half, Fairleigh Dickinson made the most of its chances and scored two goals in its come-from-behind win.

The Knights got their equalizer in the 77th minute thanks to Nicholas Walker. Walker found the ball at his feet after NIU goalkeeper Andrew Glaeser made a missed clearance in the air and slotted the ball home to make the game 1-1.

Fairleigh Dickinson put the dagger in NIU in the 84th minute with a blast from Yusuf Hamza, who took the ball off a cross and gave his team the 2-1 win.

“Credit to Fairleigh Dickinson; they are a good team and there were stretches where they were able to get a hold of the game,” said head coach Eric Luzzi in a news release. “I don’t know if that is a mental thing on our part or physical, but we have to get back to being ourselves a little bit more. I don’t think this was the best account of who we are or who we can be.”

On Sunday, two goals from senior striker James Stevenson had NIU finishing the weekend right with a 2-1 win against St. Mary’s.

Stevenson struck in the 38th and 57th minute for his 14th and 15th goal of his career.

“It’s difficult being up front by yourself,” Stevenson said. “…When we get the ball forward and get the ball to the feet and play with the ball like we know we can I think we play really well. The service was good today and [there were] plenty of chances. I’m happy I scored two but I could have scored three or four if I was on my game. So it was good to score but I probably could have had a few more.”

The Gaels gave NIU a scare with a goal from a set piece that was headed home by Bobby Conner in the 75th minute. The Huskies held on in the final 15 minutes of the game and earned the 2-1 victory.

Luzzi said even though NIU has only had one shutout all season the Huskies’ defense has been solid.

“To be fair I think … they had one shot on goal in the first 80 minutes,” Luzzi said. “The goal we gave up was on a set piece. Teams aren’t consistently getting a ton of chances on us in the run of play, so I mean in general the defending has been fine…[we] probably need to be a little sharper on set pieces and follow our runners, but general defending has not been bad at all.”