Nov. 13, 2007
Final Stats in PDF Format
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Senior Marcus McCarty scored the 10th game-winning goal of his Northern Illinois career, as the Huskie men's soccer team upended Bowling Green 3-0 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, Tuesday.
"From the get go, we were the quicker, more intense, more focused team," head coach Steve Simmons said. "All the things we talked about over the last nine days of training came to fruition."
The Huskies (7-8-3) were the aggressors from the opening kick-off, firing four shots in the opening 16 minutes of the match. On the last, McCarty (Fort Worth, Texas/Fossil Ridge) found the net with a header assisted by Chris Rufa (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) and Blake Gotkowski (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln Way East).
"We were very engaged and focused," Simmons said. "The ball bounced our way because we made it bounce our way."
Sophomore forward Ben Thomas (Hamilton, Ohio/Fairfield) gave Northern Illinois a 2-0 advantage just before halftime, as he split two defenders to earn a one-on-one with Falcon keeper Brent Petkus. Thomas capitalized on the opportunity with just 30 seconds left in the half, giving the Huskies the momentum at intermission.
"To score right before the half was a massive boost," Simmons said.
Northern Illinois tacked-on a third goal late in the match, when senior Fraser Gibson (Dumbarton, Scotland/Dumbarton Academy) had a shot deflect off the post and in for his fourth goal of the year.
The shutout was the sixth of the season for the Huskies and the third this year for junior goalkeeper Joe Zimka (Algonquin, Ill./Jacobs), who posted six saves. Petkus was under constant pressure from NIU, facing 10 shots on goal and making seven saves.
"Bowling Green had some chances off free kicks, but our guys continued consistent pressure that didn't allow them to do much," Simmons said.
The Huskies' 10 chances on frame matched a season-high, while the three goals is the second-most NIU has scored this year.
With the win, the Huskies advance to the MAC semifinals to face top-seed and tournament host No. 17 Akron this Friday.
"Akron has gone undefeated in league play, and that's quite a feat," Simmons said. "They're an excellent team that plays a top-20 schedule. It's going to be one heck of a challenge, but we're looking forward to it."