April 18, 2011
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois men's soccer team retained the Governor's Cup for the seventh time in nine seasons on Saturday at the NIU Soccer Complex. NIU goalkeeper Jordan Godsey was named Governor's Cup MVP after posting back-to-back shutouts as the Huskies defeated Western Illinois, 1-0, before downing Eastern Illinois 4-2 on penalty kicks after playing to a scoreless draw.
"Overall, I'm very pleased that we retained the Governor's Cup for another year," said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. "As is typical for our Governors Cup games, both of our games today were played at an intensity that is similar to what fall games can be. Unfortunately, the weather conditions dominated most of the play today, with whatever team had the wind in their favor having the better of the play in that half. That being said, we have gone another two games without conceding a goal, and really without conceding any really dangerous chances. And the goal we scored against Western (Illinois) was a quality goal."
Playing 30 minutes halves, NIU and Western Illinois were scoreless at the intermission. The Huskies broke through in the 42nd minute as Karim Darbaki put NIU in front with a header from inside the six-yard box.
Brad Horton started the play by eluding a defender and getting down the right wing, Horton clipped a cross to the back-post where a waiting Darbaki headed the ball down and into the goal. The NIU defense limited Western Illinois to very few opportunities in the final 18 minutes and advanced to the championship game.
The final against Eastern Illinois came down to penalty kicks following a scoreless 60 minutes of regulation, as well as a scoreless 10 minutes of extra time. NIU nearly had a game-winner in the extra session as Johnny Tyma pounced on a ball at the top of the box and fired a blistering shot from 25 yards that just skimmed over the top of the crossbar.
In penalty kicks, Eastern Illinois went first and converted its opportunity to take a 1-0 lead. James Stevenson scored for NIU to tie the score, 1-1. Godsey then made a save and Darbaki scored to give NIU a 2-1 advantage. After Eastern Illinois scored to tie the score, Francis Otira put the Huskies back in front, 3-2.
Godsey then made a second save and Finn Jor followed with a goal to retain the Governor's Cup for NIU.
"In our first game against Western, I thought that we did quite well to manage the conditions and still get a hold of the ball throughout the game," said Luzzi. "I have been very pleased with our team this spring from the standpoint of carrying the play in many of our games so far. But, we have also retained the fighting spirit that has always been the key ingredient in NIU teams in the past. For me, having the ability to create a lot of chances through good soccer, but also having a group of players that just know how to find ways to win is a recipe for success. We have one more week of our spring season, and I will already be looking forward to getting the guys back for the fall, as I think we are on the verge of doing big things here."