Sept. 22, 2007
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CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Northern Illinois men's soccer team opened its West Coast swing on high note, defeating Oregon State 1-0 at the Zaher/Hensor Memorial Tournament, Friday.
Senior Chris Rufa (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) scored the match's only goal when put away a header in the 61st minute of play. Sophomore Kyle Knotek (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) earned his second assist of the season on the play, while the goal is Rufa's second on the year.
"That was a hustle goal," NIU head coach Steve Simmons said. "It was the essence of what our program is about."
The Huskies (2-2-3) were forced to hustle in the first half, as the Beavers (2-5-0) pressured the defending MAC Champions with 10 shots, including three goal.
"They pressed the issue, and our guys had to dig the trenches to stop the onslaught," Simmons said.
After halftime, Simmons said his team made appropriate adjustments and reaped the rewards of doing so.
"The guys rolled-up their sleeves, gritted their teeth and chased (the Beavers) all over the park," he said.
Simmons was satisfied with the way his team handled the Beaver attack after the Huskie score.
"At any time, especially against a Pac-10 opponent, there can be a momentum shift," he said. "Our guys did a terrific job to hold that off, and earn a victory over a splendid Oregon State team."
The Huskies captured the victory, Simmons' sixth over a BCS conference team, despite being outperformed on the stat sheet. OSU led the contest in shots 15-6, corner kicks 4-1, and shots on goal 6-2.
Northern Illinois will play in the Zaher/Hensor Memorial Tournament Championship match against Gonzaga, Saturday at 7 p.m. (CST). The Bulldogs defeated Loyola (Md.) 2-1 in their first match of the tournament.
"Gonzaga played very well today," Simmons said. "I can see how they beat Washington and UC Santa Barbara. We'll have our hands full, but that's how we like it."