Huskies split win and loss on road trip

By Mike Buda

Looking to continue its success from the undefeated offseason, the NIU men’s soccer team took a minor stumble out of the starting gate of the 2010 campaign.

As the dust settled on opening weekend, the Huskies left Oregon without a win after a scoreless draw with No. 19 Portland and a 1-0 loss to Washington.

“The weekend as a whole, we’re definitely disappointed,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. “We felt that Friday was OK. Portland’s a very good team, they’re difficult to play at home and they’re definitely a top 20 team. To go in there on the first night and get a tie is not bad, but [we’re] very disappointed about Sunday’s performance.”

In NIU’s (0-1-1) regular season opener, the Pilots (1-0-1) controlled the ball for the majority of the 110 minutes and had the bulk of the scoring chances, but sophomore keeper Jordan Godsey kept the home team off the scoreboard.

Senior striker Juan Hoyos had the Huskies’ two best opportunities, but was unable to finish on a strike from just inside the 18 with eight minutes left in regulation and a bicycle kick from the six-yard box in the first overtime.

Portland outshot NIU 17-10 with a 5-4 advantage of shots on goal.

Washington (1-1-0) spoiled the Huskies road trip with an unusual strike as the Huskies could not put one of their own into the net.

In the 73rd minute, Washington junior forward Brent Richards scored a rare goal from a throw-in. Godsey came out to try and grab the ball, but missed the catch and deflected it into the net.

“We had a very poor first half and, luckily, Jordan [Godsey] kept us in the game in the first half,” said senior defender Kyle Knotek. “Nobody’s blaming Jordan for the goal. It was an unfortunate situation and he was put in a tough predicament and he made the right decision and things just didn’t work out.”

Both sides finished with 11 shots while Washington edged NIU 4-2 on shots on goal.

One positive note from the weekend came via Gael Rivera, Sean Totsch, Mino Kayser and James Stevenson, four of the nine freshmen who make up NIU’s top-40 recruiting class, who received plenty of playing time and left an optimistic impression on their teammates.

“Those four throughout the weekend were some of our best players,” Knotek said. “Mino and Sean started and they were some of the best players on the field throughout the entire game; they really stepped up. James and Gael, every time they got in, brought a spark to the game and they were some of the reason why we picked up the energy.”