Sept. 19, 2008
Box Score in PDF Format
TULSA, Okla. - The Huskies were on the doorstep of the number two team in the country for 91 minutes.
Brad Horton knocked the door down in the 92nd with a goal that gave the Northern Illinois men's soccer team a 1-0 win over second-ranked SMU, Friday at the Tulsa Invitational.
"For NIU Huskie athletics, this is monumental," head coach Steve Simmons said. "We schedule these teams not to get beat, but to win."
To earn the victory and stay undefeated, the Huskies (5-0-2) needed all 90 minutes of regulation and 1:52 of overtime. Horton (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore) ended the match at that point with his fourth goal and third game-winner of the season.
Northern Illinois came out strong in the extra period. A shot from Luis De La Cerda (Guadalajara, Mexico/Waubonsie Valley) forced SMU goalie Craig Hill to make his 11th and final save of the night. On the save, Hill deflected the ball back to De La Cerda. The crafty midfielder passed it across the net to Horton, who scored to end the match.
"I think I was smiling even before I shot it, because I knew it was going to go in," said Horton, who had four shots on goal for the night.
Though the goal didn't come until extra time, the Huskies dominated the entire match, according to both the box score and Simmons.
"We came out energized from the get go," Simmons said. "We had the first attacking opportunity, and from there I think we had SMU on their back foot the whole night."
The Huskies outshot the Mustangs (5-1-1) 22-8, with a stunning 12-2 advantage in shots on goal. SMU's Hill was forced to make three saves in the first half and eight in the second to keep a clean net through regulation.
"The goal was a long time coming, because we were knocking on the door until the last second of regulation, literally," said Simmons, who added a second top-10 upset his résumé. The Huskies ousted then-No. 9 Northwestern 2-1 in overtime in 2007.
Huskie keeper Joe Zimka (Algonquin, Ill./Jacobs) went nearly unchallenged, facing only two shots on goal and making clean saves on each. Simmons credited the limited SMU opportunities to a stellar defense that pushed the Mustangs out of their comfort zone of passing on the ground, and forced an out-of-character aerial attack.
"Our ability to shut down passing options to their feet was huge, because they had to play very direct, which is not what their strength is," he said.
Horton agreed that the Huskies controlled the previously unbeaten Mustangs.
"We were dominating the whole game," he said. "Not scoring earlier was definitely frustrating. We were ripping shots, and it lifted something off our shoulders when we scored."
The Mustangs were the fourth top-10 team Northern Illinois has played in the last two seasons. The Huskies are now 2-1-1 in those matches, with the only loss coming on a 1-0 result to then-No. 4 Indiana.
"Our upperclassmen have been in big games like this, with wins against Michigan State, Saint Louis, Portland and Northwestern," he said. "There is not too much surprise in our camp."
The Huskies continued their best start since 1998, when the team went 6-0-1 before dropping a match. Northern Illinois will look for the longest unbeaten start in school history, Sunday, when it takes on the tournament host, Tulsa, at 2 p.m.