Panthers squeak past Huskies

By Brian Thomas

After winning its last three games in a row and clinching a spot in the MAC tournament, NIU men’s soccer dropped its final non-conference match at UW Milwaukee 1-0.

The Huskies (11-5-0, 3-2-0 MAC) did not come out with a lot of energy in the first half, and the Panthers capitalized on it.

“I didn’t think we were that good in the first half,” said Eric Luzzi, NIU head men’s soccer coach. “Milwaukee seemed to want it more in the first half than we did.”

UW Milwaukee freshman Zach Stevenson scored his first goal of the season on a free kick in the 14th minute, which turned out to be the game winner. With Stevenson’s goal, NIU junior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey’s streak of not allowing a goal ended at 287 minutes, which began back on its loss at Northwestern Oct. 12. This is only the third time this season the Huskies have been shut out.

Although it was shut out, NIU had many opportunities to score a goal but came up short and was unable to capitalize. The Huskies took a season-high 21 shots, 14 of them coming in the second half. NIU out-shot the Panthers 21-10.

“We came out in the second half and were fantastic, to be honest,” Luzzi said.

Despite all the shot attempts from NIU, the panthers’ junior goalkeeper John Shakon didn’t allow a goal, recording nine saves and his third shutout of the season.

“He was OK; he wasn’t great,” Luzzi said. “It was us hitting him with our chances more than him making saves.”

In order to get the win, the Huskies needed to play the whole 90 minutes.

“We need to have 90 minute performances, not 45,” Luzzi said. “We really just were not as sharp as we have been in the first half and Milwaukee out-battled us during that time. But credit to them. We just needed to put together a 90-minute performance and we didn’t do that.”