Sluggish start dooms Huskie men as Akron scores four early goals in 4-2 MAC victory





Score by Period 1st   2nd   OT  


Akron 4 - 0 - - - 4 UA now 3-6-2,
2-0-0 in the MAC
Northern Illinois 1 - 1 - - - 2

NIU now 2-11-0,
0-2-0 in the MAC


Scoring Summary:
UA --- Chris Gnandt (Will Kletzien assist), 4:02 Gone, 1st Half.
UA --- Kirk Harwat (C. Gnandt, K. Veris assts), 10:40 Gone, 1st Half.
UA --- Ross McKenzie (Pat Beattie assist), , 19:29 Gone, 1st Half.
UA --- Chris Gnandt (Will Kletzien assist), 22:01 Gone, 1st Half.
NIU --- Peter Agrimson (Unassisted), 27:23 Gone, 1st Half.
NIU --- Rasih Pala (Jon Davit assist), 63:56 Gone, 2nd Half.

Statistical Summary:

Statistic UA NIU
Overall Shots 24 19
Shots on Goal 11 5
Corner Kicks 11 2
Offsides 4 1
Fouls 22 18




DeKALB, IL---On paper, Sunday's (Oct. 13) match figured to be a defensive struggle with two low-scoring teams. The Northern Illinois University men's soccer team was late getting on track, allowing the University of Akron to shed its offensive woes for a 4-2 victory.


Akron had scored just ten goals in its first ten matches of the season, but the Zips' assault tallied four strikes in the first 22:01 to improve to 3-6-2 overall and 2-0-0 in the Mid-American Conference. Northern Illinois dropped its sixth in a row, falling to 2-11-0 on the season with an 0-2-0 mark in the league.


Chris Gnandt started the barrage with a 20-yarder into the lower corner of the net just 4:02 into the contest. Gnandt steered a shot around the wall and past Huskie goalkeeper Steve Goletz (Downers Grove / South) for a 1-0 lead. Kirk Harwat made it 2-0 at the 10:40 mark, emerging from a goal-mouth scramble for a four-yard strike after Goletz stopped Gnandt's initial shot.


The margin swelled to 4-0 as Akron scored two goals 1:32 apart, with Ross McKenzie re-directing a Pat Beattie drive into the net at 19:29 and Gnandt duplicating his first goal at the 22:01 mark. Both of Gnandt's tallies came from free kick opportunities at the top of the penalty area, with Will Kletzien touching the ball to Gnandt.


"Three of their goals came off dead balls," NIU assistant coach Karsten Roy observed. "We were sleeping defensively. It was like we didn't want to win the ball. We just didn't play very smart soccer in the first half. The guys tried hard but they need to be smarter and make better passes, and stay focused the whole 90 minutes."


Northern Illinois cut info the margin, with Peter Agrimson (Stillwater, MN) converting a penalty kick opportunity at the 27:23 mark. NIU still trailed 4-1 at intermission before Rasih Pala (Markham, Ontario / Markham District) tallied his first career goal with an eight-yard header of Jon Davit's corner kick at the 63:56 mark. Pala---playing midfield after three-plus seasons as the Huskie goalkeeper---trimmed the gap to 4-2 but NIU could get no closer despite missed several missed scoring chances in the next few minutes.


"We came out a lot better in the second half," Roy noted. "Rasih had a very nice ball, going up for the header. We also had a couple of other chances, with Eric O'Reilly hitting the crossbar and Jon Davit missing an open net. If we could have hit one of those, we'd have had (Akron) on their heels. But we need to focus on our marking and play better defensively."


O'Reilly's shot drew iron shortly after Pala's strike and Davit had UA netminder Dan Pinho on the ground but lifted a shot over the crossbar with 18 minutes left. The Zips recovered on defense and preserved the two-goal margin.


The Huskies face a difficult schedule this week, traveling to the University at Buffalo for a Friday (Oct. 18) contest. NIU has little time to recover from that 7 p.m. match before returning home to meet Western Michigan University next Sunday (Oct. 20) for a high-noon showdown.


-30- --- Copy by Robert Hester