DEKALB, Ill. -- Following just four days of training, the Northern Illinois University men’s soccer team opened the 2015 season with a 1-1 exhibition draw against Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon at the NIU Soccer Complex. After a scoreless first half, the Badgers opened the scoring in the 50th minute before NIU levelled the match through freshman Giovanni Pacheco (Pasadena, Texas/Pasadena) in the 72nd minute.
“The result is truly irrelevant,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. “A 1-1 draw is fine. I was more looking at individual performances, particularly with the number of new guys we have. Half of our roster is new to Division I soccer, so we are looking at those performances. In addition to that, we were looking to implement a couple of the things we have been training for the first few days.
“On the whole it was a good day. We scored a good goal, we limited Wisconsin’s chances. I did think the goal they scored was a little too easy, so we have something to clean up there, but on the whole it wasn’t a bad first outing.”
Wisconsin created the first chance of the contest in the 15th minute as NIU senior goalkeeper Andrew Glaeser (Walla Walla, Wash./Walla Walla/Oregon State) had to react quickly to a header inside the box off a free kick. The Huskie goalkeeper finished the match with four saves.
The Badgers held a 4-3 advantage in shots in the opening 45 minutes as the game went into the intermission scoreless.
After the break, the visitors struck first, opening the scoring less than five minutes into the second half. Wisconsin worked the ball down the left wing and Brian Hail found Tom Barlow inside the box. Barlow stepped around Glaeser at the corner of the six-yard box and slotted the ball into the net for the opening goal.
In the 67th minute, Barlow again found himself in a dangerous position and forced a good save from Glaeser in goal for the Huskies.
Five minutes later NIU pulled level via Pacheco. Freshman Nixon Urrutia (Houston, Texas/Dobie) played a ball in behind the Badger defense allowing Pacheco to collect just inside the box. Pacheco fired a low shot just inside the back post that beat the Wisconsin goalkeeper to even the match at 1-1.
Neither goalkeeper was tested in the final 17 minutes and no overtime was played as the Huskies and Badgers settled for the draw.
NIU will return to action on Wednesday, Aug. 19, as the Huskies host Lewis in their second exhibition beginning at 5 p.m. at the NIU Soccer Complex.