Men's soccer loses to Akron after two goal lead

Martin Sanchez, redshirt first-year goalkeeper, keeps the ball close while looking for an open teammate Oct. 8 during NIU's 5-1 victory against Eastern Illinois University at the Soccer and Track and Field Complex.

DeKALB — Men’s soccer lost a heartbreaking contest Saturday to the University of Akron, after the Zips’ game winning goal hit the back of the net with three seconds left on the clock.

With the 3-2 loss, NIU falls to 7-8-1 and 2-2 in Mid-American Conference play.

Sophomore defender Anthony Markanich and junior midfielder Louis Sala each scored a goal for the Huskies. Martin Sanchez, redshirt first-year goalkeeper, had nine saves.

The first half was a scoreless battle, with the teams playing for first place in the MAC. The Zips were more aggressive in the first half with 12 total shots, while the Huskies posted just one.

Sanchez was able to stand strong, tallying four saves during the first half of action. 

“[Sanchez] was excellent; he had so many fantastic saves,” Head Coach Ryan Swan said. “He kept us in the game the first half.”

The second half was a different story as both teams started to put numbers in the scoring column. 

Markanich scored the first goal of the game in the 50th minute, connecting on a header from a corner kick. Junior midfielder Alex Welch recorded an assist on the play.

In the 72nd minute, Sala scored on a penalty kick to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead. Markanich was brought down inside the 18-yard-box to set up Sala’s goal.

The Zips managed to score their first goal just shy of 82 minutes. Junior forward David Egbo found the back of the net with an assist from sophomore defender Pol Hernandez.

Things took a turn for the worst 62 seconds later, when Egbo scored another goal for Zips. He connected on a header six yards inside the box to tie the game 2-2. Fifth-year midfielder Christian Lue Young earned an assist for his cross to Egbo.

The Huskies gave up the final goal of the contest three seconds before the end of regulation. First-year forward Will Jackson was able to bury the Huskies with a flick over Sanchez. 

Swan believes his team was better for most of the contest. For 82 minutes, the Huskies were able to hold the Zips scoreless. Akron had 31 shots compared to the Huskies’ five. 

“We limited their opportunities,” Swan said. “We gave them long shots we weren’t worried about.”

Swan said the Huskies shut off mentally at the end of the game, leaving Akron with scoring opportunities on defensive errors.

 Swan was still happy with his goalkeeper’s performance despite the loss. 

“[Martin had] so many fantastic saves,” Swan said. “I’m disappointed he didn’t get a win.”

Men’s soccer’s final game of the regular season is set for 6 p.m. Saturday against Bowling Green State University at Cochrane Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio.

BGSU is 4-2-1 at home but 1-3 in the MAC this season.

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