DEKALB, Ill. – Junior Richard Hall (Billericay, England/The Billericay School) scored in the 106th minute as the Northern Illinois University men’s soccer team claimed a 1-0 double overtime victory over Green Bay in the season opener on Friday night at the NIU Soccer Complex. The Huskies dominated the contest, outshooting the Phoenix 20-5, but needed the extra session to earn the victory.
“I told the guys after that there were times in the last couple of years where we would not have won that game,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. “Whether it was belief, or continued quality on the ball in the later stages of the game, in the last couple of years we wouldn’t have won that game.
“Although there were plenty of good soccer moments, some very good defending, some good moments on the ball, the thing I am most pleased about is the attitude, the commitment and the belief to push to get the three points.”
Green Bay created the first chance of the contest as William Nordenstrom forced NIU senior goalkeeper Andrew Glaeser (Walla Walla, Wash./Oregon State) into a good save in the fourth minute. It would be the only save Glaeser made the entire match as the Huskies slowly began to take control of the match as the first half went on.
In the 20th minute, senior Bertrand Gaschot (Austin, Texas/Westwood) and freshman Nixon Urrutia (Houston, Texas/Dobie) had the first two shots for the Huskies. Both efforts were blocked, with Urrutia’s chance going out for a corner that was cleared by the Phoenix.
Sophomore Luke Read (Ilford, England/Barking Abbey School) had the last opportunity of the first half, but his effort went high in the 44th minute.
After the break the Huskies began piling on the pressure with the first chance falling to Gaschot in the 50th minute, but the senior from Austin, Texas saw his volley attempt go high.
Just two minutes later freshman Kevin Rodriguez (Pasadena, Texas/Deer Park) forced an excellent save from Green Bay goalkeeper Kyle Ihn. Rodriguez was on the end of good combination play with freshman Adrian Coardos (Evanston, Ill./Niles North) and Gaschot but Ihn got down low to make the save.
In the 61st minute, Rodriguez was fouled just outside the box and Hall just missed wide from the resulting free kick as the Huskies continued to push for the opening goal.
Four minutes later, junior Cody Witkowski (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) tried his luck and nearly opened the scoring if not for an outstanding punch from Ihn.
Freshman Max Voss (Huls, Germany/Staedtisches Gymnasium Herten) then had a chance to open the scoring in the 75th minute, but his shot from distance was again saved by Ihn as the Phoenix goalkeeper continued to keep the game scoreless.
It was Witkowski’s turn to test Ihn again in the 85th minute as his rocket forced Ihn to make a save at full stretch as the Huskies and Phoenix finished 90 minutes goalless.
In the first extra period NIU had the majority of the possession but was unable to threaten the Green Bay goal as the teams turned around to play a second overtime period.
Sophomore Nicolas Wandl (Tulln, Austria/University of Vienna) had the first chance in overtime as Ihn came up with another save in the 103rd minute.
Hall finally broke the deadlock in the 106th, scoring off a free kick from about 30 yards. Hall drove the free kick toward the back post and the run of senior Taylor Cole (Clarendon Hills, Ill./St. John’s) forced Ihn to freeze on his goal line, allowing Hall’s free kick to find the net inside the back post, sending the Huskies bench into a frenzy.
The goal was Hall’s third career tally; Glaeser picked up his seventh career shutout in goal for the Huskies.
NIU will return to action next weekend as it travels to South Carolina for the Furman Diadora/Spinx Tournament. The Huskies will face host Furman on Friday, Sept. 4, at 6:30 p.m. CT, before meeting College of Charleston on Sunday, Sept. 6, at 11 a.m. CT.