Sept. 4, 2009
Box Score in PDF Format
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - It didn't take long for first-year Northern Illinois men's soccer coach Eric Luzzi to get his first signature result. The Huskies tied top-ranked North Carolina, 1-1, Friday night at the UNC Nike Invitational.
"It's a huge result," said Luzzi. "We're excited, but to be completely honest, we played a good game but not a great game. That could be the most exciting part."
Sophomore defender Tim King (Arlington Heights, Ill./Conant) scored in the 21st minute after a throw in. Sophomore Finn Jor (Oslo, Norway/Academy for Elite Athletes) earned the assist. The goal gave the Huskies (0-1-1) a 1-0 lead, which they held for 40 minutes against the 2008 national runner-up.
"After Rocco played the ball into the box, we did a good job to keep it alive," Luzzi said. "We found Tim on the six. He hit it, and had a pretty good finish for a defender."
Ranked the best team in the nation by Soccer America, the Tar Heels (1-0-1) responded in the 61st to tie the match. NIU goalkeeper Jordan Godsey (Ocean Springs, Miss./Ocean Springs), a freshman playing in his first match as a Huskie, totaled six saves to preserve the tie.
"That performance was very unlike a freshman because of the confidence Jordan played with," Luzzi said. "Jordan is one of the few kids in the country that would not be intimidated playing in their first college game, against the number-one team in the country, at their place."
In front of Godsey, all four members of the NIU backline played the full match, stunting attack after attack from a Tar Heel offense that includes preseason All-American Stephen McCarthy. The defense's performance was even more impressive considering UNC took 21 total shots, had four corner kicks, and was called offside eight times.
"North Carolina has some special individual players that are going to get chances in every single match they play," Luzzi said. "Our four guys in back worked their socks off and gave everything they possibly could to limit those chances."
The Huskie defense did such a good job that UNC, a team that scored five goals in its season-opener, could only score on a corner kick.
"For 110 minutes our guys did not give up a goal to the top team in the country in the run of play, and that is a big time performance," Luzzi said.
Northern Illinois totaled nine shots, with King, Finn Jor (Oslo, Norway/Academy for Elite Athletes), and Luis Mojica (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) each accounting for two. The Huskies have now either tied or beaten a top-10 team in each of the last three seasons. NIU defeated then No. 2 SMU, 1-0, in 2008, and beat then ninth-ranked Northwestern, 2-1, two years ago.
Northern Illinois continues play at the UNC Nike Invitational, Sunday, when it faces 2008 Sweet-16 squad UNC-Greensboro. The Spartans lost their opening match 3-0 to Evansville.\
"They are going to come out fired up," Luzzi said. "If we don't approach our next game as the most important game of the season, and don't have a good showing there, it takes away from this one. We need to make sure the value of this result holds by coming back and having a good performance Sunday."