Huskies Lose 2-1 to No. 17 in MAC Semifinal

GO HUSKIES Drew Jeskey scored to give NIU a 1-0 lead, but Akron came back to take the match 2-1.
Drew Jeskey scored to give NIU a 1-0 lead, but Akron came back to take the match 2-1.

Nov. 16, 2007

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AKRON, Ohio - The Northern Illinois men's soccer team fell 2-1 in double-overtime to No. 17 Akron in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinal, Friday.

Akron's Steve Zakuani scored the match-ending goal in the 116th minute of play, as he fired a shot from the left wing that beat NIU goalkeeper Joe Zimka (Algonquin, Ill./Jacobs), and sent the Zips to the MAC Championship game.

"First and foremost, congratulations to Akron," NIU head coach Steve Simmons said. "This was a classic NIU-Akron match-up. Both teams really made this one special tonight."

The Huskies struck first in the contest, a rematch of the 2006 MAC Tournament Final, with a goal in the 38th minute from junior Drew Jeskey (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East). Jeskey capitalized on the rebound of a missed shot by Chris Rufa (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South), one of seven seniors who played their final match as Huskies.

"The seniors led with tremendous heart, and put everything on the field," Simmons said. "Hats off to them for what they've done. I'm proud to have been their coach and look forward to seeing them prosper beyond NIU."

The Zips responded two minutes before halftime with a goal from Michael Nanchoff to tie the match at the break.

The teams played to a stalemate over the next 70 minutes before Zakuani's goal.

Zimka, a junior, recorded nine saves and faced 20 shots on the night. Senior Steve Algozino (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and Jeskey led the Huskies with two shots each.

The loss to Akron is Northern Illinois' first to the Zips since Oct. 21, 2005. The Huskies recorded two wins over Akron in 2006, including a 1-0 victory in the MAC title match.

"When you raise the bar high, you experience the highest of joys and the lowest of lows," Simmons said. "We look forward to getting back to work and preparing for next season."