HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Evan Conway and Alex Sykes scored second-half goals to help the Milwaukee men's soccer team to an impressive 2-1 victory over Northern Kentucky Saturday night in the rain at the NKU Soccer Stadium.
"That was a big Horizon League win for us on the road against a team that has been very hot and playing well – getting a number of results," head coach Kris Kelderman said. "I was very pleased with the performance today. It is not easy coming here to NKU. It was raining all evening, so we had to deal with the weather, deal with the surface, and deal with their style of play. It was very challenging."
The Panthers (5-2-1, 1-0-1 Horizon League) took command of a scoreless game against the Norse (6-3-0, 1-2-0 Horizon League) in the second half, eventually holding on to the win after a late penalty kick cut the margin in half. In addition to it being a huge victory on the road in Horizon League play, it came against a team that was ranked No. 9 in the United Soccer Coaches North Region Poll this week.
"There were times in the game where I thought we played some good soccer and some times where we needed to roll up our sleeves and battle, whether it was pretty or not," Kelderman said.
A scoreless deadlock after a slow first half that featured just four shots combined, Conway got MKE on the board in the 60th minute when he finished a well-placed thru ball from Sean Holmes for his third goal of the season.
The Panthers had an opening to make it 2-0 just a few minutes later, but Suad Suljic had his attempt saved nicely in the 64th.
Sykes was stellar off the bench again, netting his second of the season from close range off a combination of passes from Cameron Williams and Holmes, making it 2-0 at the 70:28 mark.
"Two very nice goals," Kelderman said. "Evan had a great finish and Alex did too. It was a good performance from everyone on the field. Guys are getting off the bench in a reserve role, coming in and making us better – Sykes goal was in a reserve role."
Freshman Jackson Dryden was denied an insurance goal in the 78th minute with another quality stop from NKU's Ed Harvey.
"We had some other opportunities to push it to three, which would have made things a lot easier," Kelderman said.
The defense did the rest, holding a team that had scored two or more goals in a game on six occasions this season to zero until a late penalty kick in the 88th minute denied goalkeeper Freddy Lorenzen from his fourth shutout of the season.
"Defensively the team, the back line, goalkeeper, all did a very nice job today," Kelderman said. "I thought we deserved the shutout tonight, which was unfortunate. But it is a very big win on the road and we are moving on."
For the match, each team closed out the night with eight shots, with Milwaukee a 5-2 favorite in shots on target. MKE also earned four of the six corner kicks, as well. Holmes' pair of helpers gives him six points (2G/2A) on the year after having just one point in his first three seasons combined.
A pair of home games await Milwaukee next, each with a traveling cup on the line. Up first is a battle with Northern Illinois, as the Panthers look to maintain possession of the LeWang Cup. Game time against the Huskies is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Engelmann Stadium.