Huskies take second win over ranked opponent

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Soccer ball flies through the net in the goal.

Kyle Mathas

DeKALB —Men’s soccer got its second ranked win of the season Easter Sunday over the University of Akron Zips, 3-1. 

The Huskies defeated the Zips, who were once again ranked in the top-25 in the country, this time being ranked 21st after being ranked 14th in their last game against the Huskies. For just the second time in program history, the Huskies have recorded back-to-back wins against Akron, the only other time happened in 2006. 

“It’s incredible,” NIU Head Coach Ryan Swan said. “This is a really good Akron team; I still believe they are going to challenge for the conference championship, and I have nothing but respect for their program.”

The first goal of the game was scored in the 22nd minute by Northern Illinois University junior forward Roque Viegas Jr., who scored off of a header that was swung in from the corner from NIU senior forward Carlos Valdez. 

The Huskies, then, struck in the second half with two goals almost simultaneously. In the 56th minute, redshirt sophomore forward Enrique Banuelos scored on another header from a corner kick, this time sent in by sophomore midfielder Luis Hernandez. Almost immediately after, in the 58th minute, junior defender Anthony Markanich scored on a header which hit the crossbar and bounced in. 

“I thought the guys were brilliant today,” Swan said. “Our guys came in with a positive attitude, they were excited to play and, to a man they were exceptional.”

Akron scored a goal late in the 85th minute from sophomore forward Tonny Temple on a header which was sent into the box by sophomore defender Jaden Wright, which ended the NIU shutout.

NIU goalkeeper, redshirt sophomore Martin Sanchez was great in Sunday’s win with three saves on four Akron shots on goal. Meanwhile on the other side of the field, the Huskies sent in seven shots on goal, which only four of those shots were saved by Akron senior goalkeeper Will Meyer.

This win for the Huskies moves them up to first place in the Mid-American Conference standings with a 4-3 conference record. This is the first time this season that the Huskies have been ranked number one in the MAC, this time with only three games to play in the season. 

The Huskies will head to Edwardsville for a matchup with the University of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. The Huskies already defeated the Cougars this season 2-0 in DeKalb March 31. Kick-off will be at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Sam M. Vadalabene Center in Edwardsville. 

Only 50 fans will be allowed at the game with only family members being allowed in the stadium, according to the SIUE Cougars University guidelines.