Men’s soccer heads into MAC tournament as number 2 seed

By Jacob Onak

NIU men’s soccer will be the second seed in the MAC tournament after its 1-0 victory against the Buffalo Bulls in the regular season finale at Buffalo Friday.

In the first half the Huskies (6-9-3, 4-2-1 MAC) started strong, as they came out and put the Bulls (5-11-1, 3-4 MAC) defense on their heels. The Huskies got their reward in the 28th minute with a rare first half goal.

Junior midfielder Gael Rivera made a run with the ball to the end line and cut it back to junior midfielder Karim Darbaki who made a beautiful back post finish to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

“I got the ball from Gael who was going down [the] line,” Darbaki said. “I was taking the supporting angle and he cut it back to me so I took a touch past the defender and found the far post with a left footed shot and it went in just like I needed it to go in.“

Coach Eric Luzzi said his team’s first half play was outstanding.

“I thought in the first half we were really good,” Luzzi said. “The quality of our soccer and the quality of our play with the ball was absolutely fantastic. We created a number of very good chances, threaten their back and line and keeper quite a bit and then we got just an absolute great finish from Karim.”

Going into the second half the Bulls started to find their feet offensively and put the Huskies under some pressure.

The best Buffalo scoring chance came in the 76th minute when Richard Craven got in behind the Huskies back four but put his shot wide.

The Huskies lead held as the game finished 1-0. Senior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey picked up his 34th career shutout, and said the defense put in a really strong performance.

“Our team played very well, Godsey said. “We dealt with the conditions, because the conditions were terrible. I thought our defense played a banding second half, Pat [Sloan], Mike [Mascitti], Rocco [Taglia] and Charlie [Oliver] played really well.“

Luzzi was proud of the way his team battled in the second half.

“Second half was tough,” Luzzi said. “They started throwing numbers forward, and battling and pressing. There wasn’t a lot of soccer in the second half but the guys battled very hard to make sure we did what we needed to do to secure the result.”