Sept. 16, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. - Despite an early goal from sophomore Gael Rivera, the Northern Illinois men's soccer team fell for the first time this season to Xavier, 2-1 in overtime, on Friday night at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic. Rivera scored in the third minute but the Musketeers scored early in the second half and got the game-winner from Gino DePaoli at the 95:24 mark.
"Xavier doesn't beat themselves," NIU head coach Eric Luzzi said. "They don't make a lot of mistakes, they don't leave themselves exposed. They have some good attacking pieces but we had our chances and just didn't finish them. We aren't undefeated anymore, they are. They are a very good team. Now we expect a response from our team on Sunday."
NIU (5-1) started the game brightly as Rivera slotted home a goal in the third minute to give the Huskies an early lead. Senior Francis Otira played a long ball out of the back and Rivera got behind the Musketeer defense, coolly sliding the ball inside the right post. The goal was Rivera's second of the season
Freshman Isaac Kannah nearly doubled the NIU advantage in the 11th minute. Senior Brad Horton played a ball into the box from the left side; Kannah took a pair of touches before whistling a shot just wide of the far post.
The first good chance for Xavier (4-0) came in the 19th minute as Luke Spencer found a bit of space and shot high over the NIU goal.
Neither team created any quality chances in the final 30 minutes of the first half. NIU held a 7-3 advantage in shots at the intermission, but just one shot from each team was on goal.
Xavier tied the match less than two minutes into the second half as Andy Kaplan scored to even the match, 1-1. Kaplan found himself all alone inside the 18-yard box off a pass from the right side and wrong-footed NIU junior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey on the finish.
The goal was the first allowed by the Huskies in 391 minutes, a stretch dating back to the Sept. 2 match at Oakland.
The first chance for NIU to respond to the Xavier goal came in the 52nd minute as sophomore Karim Darbaki flashed a header just over the crossbar off a cross from Horton.
Freshman Jayson LeSeth made a late run on the back side to get on the end of a cross with 14 minutes to play in regulation, but his low shot went wide. Five minutes later, senior Finn Jor sent a shot wide as the Huskies continued to apply pressure.
Xavier was dangerous in the closing minutes of regulation. On a corner with just over three minutes remaining, Xavier looked to have broken the deadlock but the would-be goal was ruled out do to a push by the Musketeers and the game headed to overtime.
LeSeth nearly ended the match four minutes into the extra session with a drive from 25 yards out that forced a save from the Xavier goalkeeper. The Huskies had another chance from the ensuing corner but the final header went wide.
On Xavier's first chance of the overtime, DePaoli, trailing the play on the back post found himself alone on the end of a cross and made no mistake, firing a shot past Godsey to give Xavier the victory.
The Huskies will wrap up play at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic on Sunday, Sept. 18, when they play UC Davis; game time against the Aggies is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.