Men’s soccer clinches spot in MAC tournament

By Brian Thomas

After dropping its first two MAC games, NIU men’s soccer rallied to win its last three conference matches.

The Huskies latest win came against Bowling Green Saturday night, 3-0.

With the win against the Falcons, (7-6-3, 1-3-1 MAC) the Huskies (11-4-0, 3-2-0 MAC) clinched a spot in the MAC tournament, which they missed last season.

“It’s crucial because this win got us into the tournament,” said Eric Luzzi, NIU head men’s soccer coach. “There are still more games left, so [we don’t know if we’ll be seeded] second, third, or fourth. We’re not sure. Obviously, we hope to go to Hartwick next weekend and take care of that one so that we can get second.”

NIU jumped out to an early lead in the 19th minute on a goal by senior Pat Sloan, which was his fourth goal of the season. Sophomore Gael Rivera was credited with the assist on a corner kick.

The Huskies would take the 1-0 lead into the half.

In the 62nd minute, NIU senior Kenny Kranz scored his first career goal, on an assist from sophomore James Stevenson, to make the score 2-0.

With five minutes left in the match, NIU freshman Jayson LeSeth scored his second goal of the season, which was assisted by sophomore Karim Darbaki on a free kick, giving it a 3-0 lead.

The Huskies offense was aggressive all game, as they outshot the Falcons 15-8.

“We’ve been playing pretty well,” Luzzi said. “We probably could of scored two or three more goals. We had some other very good chances that just missed. The whole group played with a good confidence, moved the ball quickly [and] got the other team chasing … And [if] you do the simple things well, you’re usually going to create some chances for yourself.”

The defense, along with NIU junior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey, who recorded four saves, earned their third shutout in a row, and ninth this season.

“Jordan was solid,” Luzzi said. “Francis was in a good place with his organization and communication was very good. Our mid-field did a good job defensively to make the job of the back four a little easier.”