Men’s Soccer wins second MAC game against Hartwick

By Jacob Onak

After its first conference win against Florida Atlantic, NIU men’s soccer looked to remain undefeated in MAC play as it took on the Hartwick Hawks in a 1-0 game Saturday.

The Huskies (2-5-2, 2-0-0 MAC) pressured the Hawks (3-5-2, 1-1-0 MAC) right out of the gate as they created a number of chances for themselves.

The best scoring chance of the half came in the tenth minute, as James Stevenson found a streaking Isaac Kannah for a break away. The Hartwick goalie came out and cut off Kannah’s angle, making a huge save and keeping the game scoreless.

Throughout the first half NIU kept most of the possession and created great chances, but like many of its previous games it could not convert a first half goal.

Coach Eric Luzzi was pleased after his team’s first half performance.

“I thought the first half was absolutely fantastic,” Luzzi said. “[We] Dominated the first half for sure, didn’t quite do well enough. It should not have been 0-0 at halftime, but it was.“

As the second half started the play was more back and forth, and the Hawks were on more of the ball. Hartwick almost put a goal on the board as a cross from Chris Walter found Tim Crawford whose volley from inside the box was put wide.

The game’s lone goal came in the 67th minute as Huskies mid-fielder Gael Rivera gave his team the lead with his fourth goal of the season. Rivera pounced on a cross from Kannah and headed the ball into the upper corner of the net.

“It was a pretty good play,” Rivera said. “The whole team was working, small passes, we almost got a goal right before the goal actually. It was expected, we were just waiting for the goal, so a pretty good team play.”

The game ended 1-0 giving the Huskies their second win in conference play. This was also the second consecutive shut out for NIU, a defensive performance senior Rocco Taglia prides himself on.

“To be honest I thought we made everything go negative for the most part,” said Taglia. “We were just very organized and disciplined with our movement and it was just sharp today.“

Luzzi said he is still looking for that full 90-minute performance out of his team.

“Credit to Hartwick,” Luzzi said. “I thought they came out and were sharper in the second half. On the flip side credit to our guys, for finding a way, maintaining a bit of belief. I thought the goal we scored was a good goal so on the whole I think it was a fair result. I also think we would much prefer a 90-minute fantastic performance rather than a 45-minute fantastic performance and a 45-minute so-so performance.”