DEKALB, Ill. – Sophomore Luke Read (Ilford, England/Barking Abbey School) headed home the lone goal in the 82nd minute to give the Northern Illinois University men’s soccer team a 1-0 victory over Florida Atlantic on Friday night in the NIU adidas Invitational at the NIU Soccer Complex.
“It was a solid performance, not perfect, but I thought it was pretty professional,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. “I thought we were pretty comfortable when we had the ball, we were solid defensively and we limited their chances. When you only allow one shot on goal that is a pretty good day defensively.
“I thought we created a number of good chances and, as happy as I am that we got the one to get the win, eventually we are going to have to finish more of the chances we are creating.”
NIU took control of possession early on but Florida Atlantic (0-3-1) created the first chance of the night on the counterattack in the 11th minute. Off a NIU free kick, the Owls cleared the ball and quickly countered down the left side to Ramon Whittaker who found himself one-on-one with NIU senior goalkeeper Andrew Glaeser (Walla Walla, Wash./Walla Walla/Oregon State). Whittaker’s shot was saved by Glaeser and cleared by the Huskie defense as the game remained scoreless.
The first chance for NIU to open the scoring came in the 27th minute when a miscommunication in the back by Florida Atlantic nearly led to an own goal. Owl goalkeeper Josh Nolan collided with a defender near the top of the box and the ball skipped toward an open goal before being cleared off the line.
In the 39th minute, sophomore Nicolas Wandl (Tulln, Austria/University of Vienna) had a chance but whistled his effort high of goal as the Huskies and Owls went to the intermission scoreless.
NIU (2-1-0) came out quickly in the second 45 minutes. The Huskies earned a pair of corner kicks in the opening two minutes of the second stanza and, in the 48th minute junior Richard Hall (Billericay, England/The Billericay School) took a free kick from just outside 25 yards that forced a save from Nolan. On the rebound of the Hall free kick, senior Bertrand Gaschot (Austin, Texas/Westwood) fired wide.
The Huskies continued to enjoy the majority of the possession in the second half but neither team created many chances until the Huskies earned a corner kick with just under 10 minutes to play.
Wandl took the corner for the Huskies and drove a ball to the back post where Read climbed the highest to power home a header from inside the six-yard box. The goal was the first of Read’s collegiate career, although the sophomore did score a pair during the preseason, it was also the first career assist for Wandl.
“It was a great ball by Nico (Wandl),” said Read. “It was a flat ball that I could really attack and I didn’t have to do much, I just peeled off the back post and made a good connection with it, it was a great feeling.”
With six minutes to play, freshman Giovanni Pacheco (Pasadena, Texas/Pasadena) had a chance to double the NIU advantage when he stayed onside to collect the ball inside the box, but his fired his shot wide.
In the closing moments, sophomore Jerome Roche (Salon-de-Provence, France/Gardner-Webb) made an outstanding tackle to prevent Florida Atlantic from entering the attacking third of the field and helping NIU close out a 1-0 victory.
In the opening game of the NIU adidas Invitational, Loyola Chicago defeated Stetson, 1-0, in double overtime.
NIU will return to action on Sunday, Sept. 13, when the Huskies close the NIU adidas Invitational by hosting Stetson. Game time against the Hatters is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.