Men’s Soccer plays hard at Homecoming, loses to Akron

By Jacob Onak

On a cold and rainy homecoming weekend NIU men’s soccer took on the nationally third-ranked Akron Zips in its third conference game of the season.

Due to a slow start and a Huskies (3-7-2, 2-1-0 MAC) red card, the Zips (9-1-2, 4-0-0 MAC) come out victorious with a 2-0 win.

NIU went down a goal early in the game, as Akron freshman midfielder Phil Fives pounced on a ball at the six-yard box to give his team a 1-0 lead.

The game turned physical as a both sides were putting in some hard tackles, resulting in four NIU yellow cards in the first half alone.

In the second half the Huskies started to change the momentum and found their attacking rhythm.

Things took a turn for the worse, as senior defender Rocco Taglia picked up his second yellow card of the game in the 56th minute and was ejected from the game, forcing NIU to play a man down for the rest of the game.

Despite playing with a man down, the Huskies kept pushing the pace. Their best scoring opportunity of the game came in the 79th minute, as a header from sophomore defender Dusty Page forced a great reaction save from the Akron keeper.

Huskies senior captain Mike Mascitti thought NIU was the better team in the second half.

“Second half we created a lot of good chances and broke them down,” Mascitti said. “We did a good job to win the first ball and clean up the second, and connect a few passes. [We] had the better of the opportunities of the second half, just credit to their keeper for making some good saves in key moments.”

Akron finally found its second and final goal in the 85th minute as junior striker Reinaldo Brenes made a great turn with the ball to go on a breakaway, and slotted his shot past NIU senior keeper Jordan Godsey, giving his team the 2-0 lead.

Despite the positives from the game, coach Eric Luzzi said there is no denying the result.

“We didn’t win the game and at the end of the day that’s what matters,” Luzzi said. “So we are disappointed that for all the chances that we created, we didn’t win the game.”

A representative from Akron was not present to comment after the game.