DeKALB — Two unanswered goals propelled the University of Illinois – Chicago Flames over the Huskies in a 2-1 NIU loss Tuesday at Flames Field in Chicago. The UIC defeat also snaps NIU’s four-match winning streak, as the Huskies suffered their first loss since Sept. 13 when they lost to Marquette University 3-1 at Valley Fields in Milwaukee.
Sophomore defender Anthony Markanich scored for the Huskies in the 17th minute, opening the score to an intense match. Markanich was assisted by junior forward Carlos Valdez.
The Flames tied up at the 38th minute by way of first-year forward Marcos Alonzo. Alonzo scored with a slick through ball, assisted by sophomore midfielder Christian Crespo. The forward went one-on-one against NIU’s Sanchez, before Alonzo slotted his shot out of reach.
Senior forward Jesus Perez helped the Flames pull ahead with a goal at the 76th minute in a solo play.
Although the loss was a setback, Head Coach Ryan Swan said the match will not have a toll on the team going forward. Swan said the team will get over the disappointment and take away the positives.
“There is obviously frustration and disappointment on the night,” Swan said. “I think we played well tonight, and I think the guys know that as well.”
Martin Sanchez, redshirt first-year goalkeeper, has cemented his spot between the post, as he got his fifth starting nod. Sanchez came up big for NIU as he tallied seven saves, including five in the second half.
Anthony and Nick Markanich once again dominated the left wing with elusive attacking and pin-point passing. The brothers posted two shots each, and both put one on frame.
NIU was outshot by the Flames, with the Huskies attempting 11 shots to UIC’s 18. UIC outmatched the Huskies in shots on target, nine to six.
Senior forward Jan Maertins played a big role for NIU. The Huskie posted five shots, putting two on target. Maertins said he saw improvements from the team’s previous game Saturday in a 2-1 victory against Western Illinois University in Macomb.
“I think we dominated the game for big parts,” Maertins said. “We started off a little slow, but then we got into our rhythm, created a lot of chances on the counter and we stayed compact defensively.”
Maertins’ best chance came in the 49th minute when he found himself in front of Sokratis Vasilas, UIC redshirt junior goalkeeper. The Huskie pulled out a shot with a Flames defender, pressuring him, which was enough to unbalance Maertins, before the Huskie’s shot was saved by Vasilas.
The Flames looked vulnerable on the left-defensive side, but NIU was unable to take advantage. Junior midfielder Alex Welch and redshirt sophomore midfielder Lawrence Kwazema kept pressure on UIC’s left-defensive side. Welch managed to get a one-on-one against UIC sophomore defender Pau Mateo, and the Huskie was fouled, setting up NIU’s last chance on goal. Sophomore midfielder Louis Sala crossed the set-piece, but UIC cleared, ensuring a Flames victory.
The Huskies controlled the better part of the second half, but could not execute in front of the goal. NIU’s best chances came off dead-ball situations, however those chances went off target.
The match saw 29 total fouls, including one yellow card for each team.
Eduardo Huerta, UIC first-year defender, picked up the match’s first card in the 86th minute. Luis Hernandez, NIU first-year midfielder, was booked seconds before the final whistle.
NIU will be back on the pitch 7 p.m. Saturday against St. Mary’s College – California at the Soccer and Track and Field Complex in DeKalb.