Sept. 9, 2011 Final Stats
DEKALB, Ill. -- Freshman Isaac Kannah scored the lone goal in the 85th minute as the Northern Illinois men's soccer team defeated Valparaiso, 1-0, on Friday afternoon in the NIU/adidas Invitational. Kannah's first career collegiate goal helped the 20th-ranked Huskies improve to 4-0 this season.
"I was pleased with our comfort and confidence in the attack," NIU head coach Eric Luzzi said. "That has been a bit of an evolution for us and I was pleased with how the guys tried to create chances. Valparaiso is a good team, they are really hard to breakdown, they are committed and they can catch you on the break in their favor. I thought the first half was very even and I thought in the second half we did a pretty good job to get a foot on the ball and keep plugging away. We kept pushing and we maintained a confidence and a belief that we would get a goal and we did."
While most of the play in the opening 45 minutes took place in the middle third of the field, Valparaiso (1-2-1) held a 4-1 edge in shots in the first stanza.
NIU's lone attempt on goal in the first half came on a header by senior Francis Otira in the 15th minute. Otira's header off a free kick was harmlessly collected by the Valparaiso goalkeeper.
The best chance of the first 45 minutes came to Valparaiso in the 43rd minute as Guy Shabtay got in behind the Huskie defense. Shabtay's shot was palmed away by junior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey to help keep the game scoreless heading into the intermission.
Godsey made three saves in the contest as he, and the Huskies, ran their streak of minutes without being scored upon to 254.
The Huskies nearly had a goal 15 minutes into the second half as Kannah streaked down the left wing and crossed for senior Pat Sloan, but Sloan, a two-goal hero last weekend for the Huskies, was unable to get a foot on the cross.
Valparaiso had their best spell of pressure with just under 15 minutes remaining in the second stanza. Jaymie Bullard had the most dangerous chance for the Crusaders as he let go a shot from just outside the 18-yard box but junior Rocco Taglia was able to block the shot before it reached the NIU goal.
NIU broke the deadlock at the 84:10 mark when Kannah scored off his own rebound. Freshman Jayson LeSeth started the play with a corner kick for the Huskies, Kannah drove the initial attempt off a Valparaiso defender but the rebound fell right back to him and he whistled his second shot through a maze of bodies into the net.
"Isaac is a very good player, he has been very good for us and he fits our system and our style of play very well," Luzzi said. "But people know who he is, so in the run of play it is sometimes hard for him to get himself free. We are definitely happy that he got the goal, he certainly deserves it."
Valparaiso was able to get one shot attempt in the final five minutes, but it went wide as NIU claimed its fourth-straight win to start the season, and it's first at home this year.
"In the last two years we have only been 5-7 at home and that is unacceptable," said Luzzi. "I thought the guys did a great job today, they were up for it and they had a good performance on our home field."
The Huskies will return to action on Sunday, Sept. 11, as they host Portland on the final day of the NIU/adidas Invitational. Game time against the Pilots is scheduled for 11 a.m.