April 4, 2009
MACOMB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois men's soccer team defeated Western Illinois on penalty kicks to win the Governor's Cup for the fifth time in seven years, Saturday, at John MacKenzie Alumni Field on the campus of Western Illinois University.
"All the schools in this competition really pride themselves on it," head coach Steve Simmons said. "The boys worked very hard to get the Cup back, just like a lot of players before them."
The Governor's Cup is awarded annually to the winner of a tournament between NIU, WIU, Eastern Illinois, and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
The Huskies edged the Leathernecks 5-4 on penalty kicks after 90 minutes of regulation resulted in a 1-1 tie. Forward Juan Hoyos netted the goal for NIU in the 30th minute off a cross from Brad Bahr. WIU tied the match in the final minutes of regulation to send it to penalty kicks.
"We had an innocent ball close to our goal that we could have cleared, but didn't, and they made it a very entertaining match by scoring in the last three minutes to tie," said Simmons, who was impressed with goalkeeper Chris Tidwell, who stopped four PKs in the extra frame to help the Huskies to victory.
To make it to the championship game, the Huskies dispatched Eastern Illinois 2-0 thanks to goals by Ben Thomas and Brad Horton.
"The guys came out very strong, and really established command of the ball from the get-go," Simmons said of the Huskies first match. "That's something we wanted to do that was an improvement from our first spring game against Milwaukee."
Simmons exhibited pride in not only winning the cup back after falling last year to WIU on penalty kicks, but also in the consistent success Northern Illinois has shown at the tournament.
"It's great to get it back in 2009, then take a quick glance over the shoulder to see we've won it five out of the last seven years," Simmons said.
NIU defender Kyle Knotek and midfielder Luis De La Cerda, two members of the 2009-10 senior class, were named co-Most Valuable Players of the tournament.
The Huskies continue their spring season Friday, April 10, when they face Jefferson College at 3:30 p.m. and Bradley at 4:50 p.m. at the NIU Track & Field and Soccer Complex. NIU wraps up the spring the following week when it hosts Green Bay, April 18 at 2 p.m. for Alumni Day.