Cardinals beat Huskies in Rocket League

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Northern Star File Photo

Photo illustration by Jarrett Huff.

Jordan Radloff, Sports Reporter

DeKALB — The NIU eSports Rocket League team had a night of action in two Esports Collegiate Conference best of five matches with five-minute games Wednesday. The Huskies lost both matches, falling to the Ball State University Cardinals and the University of Akron Zips. 

The Cardinals increased their undefeated record this season to 5-0 after beating the Huskies in a four-game match. The Huskies went from one loss in the evening to another as they were swept in three games by the Zips, who also moved their season record to 5-0.

The Huskies roster starters included first-year business major Grant “Moxie!” Goodson, senior mechanical engineering major Jared “.six” Pottoroff and first-year marketing major Andrew “sleezily.” Hughes. The Cardinals were represented by “htaz,” “luiGi” and “Dyster.”

“The first few rounds they were playing together like a team,” Rocket League coach Matthew “Zebrow” Zebrowski said. “They were starting to build that chemistry we’ve been wanting since week one. They’ve only had so much time together so they’re still learning to play together as a team. This is only our third week together as a full roster.”

Cardinals top NIU in four matches

Ball State quickly secured a victory in the first game, taking advantage of the Huskies’ more relaxed play style and putting them in a difficult spot from the very start of the match.

Going into game two, the Huskies showed a little more aggression, with the only scored goal of the game coming from NIU’s “.six.” The key to the Huskies winning the game came from their defensive work, with NIU’s “Moxie!” and ”sleezily” having three and two saves, respectively.

The Huskies’ good fortune ended quickly, however, when the Cardinals turned up the aggression again for games three and four. Ball State’s aggressive play style was too much for the NIU defense as they continued to run the ball repeatedly and secure the match victory over the Huskies.

“Ball State’s a very impressive team,” Zebrowski said. “I think they’re one of the best, if not the best team in the entire conference, so I think they really held their heads high and competed the best that they can.”

Akron runs away from Huskies

In NIU Esports’ second Rocket League match of the evening, “Reticence,” “Fal” and “buzz” of the Zips proved to be formidable opponents to the Huskies as well, as they only allowed three goals from NIU while scoring 15 against them throughout the match.

The Zips came out hot right out of the gate, scoring in the first 30 seconds of game one and then following up with three more goals before NIU’S “.six” was able to put the Huskies on the board. The final score of game one was 5-2, with the Zips securing the advantage and never letting it go.

In the second game of the match, the Zips dominated even further with a 7-1 win, only allowing one Huskie goal from NIU’s “Moxie!”.

“We all want to pitch in,” “Moxie!” Goodson said. “We all want to be a part of the offense and a part of our defensive structure. Sleezily is more of our defensive player. He’s our rock, he’s our wall. Six will be there for a lot of solo plays and setting up a lot of scoring opportunities for both of us.”

The energy of the match shifted at the start of the third game as both teams played keep-away with the ball, keeping a score of 0-0 for the first three minutes. Akron took the lead once again with a goal from each of their three players to finish the game with a 3-0 score, sweeping the Huskies.

The Huskies’ Rocket League team started their second season as a varsity eSports team with a 3-1 record after beating Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University and the University at Buffalo, and losing to Bowling Green State University earlier this month.

“[Success] comes down to keeping emotions in check and keeping a level head,” “Moxie!” Goodson said. “Being a new program, we need to remember we are starting out and we’re building. Even if we are getting beat we need to know that we are progressing and moving forward.”

NIU now holds a 3-3 record as they look forward to next week’s matches against Western Michigan University and the University of Toledo Wednesday. The matches will be broadcasted starting at 6 p.m. on the NIU eSports Twitch channel.

“Western Michigan and Toledo are both very formidable schools and I feel like they will be close and competitive games,” Zebrowski said. “We’ll do some more team building exercises to really start building that synergy again. We still have a long season ahead of us.”