MILWAUKEE - A pair of second-half goals turned the night around and sent Northern Illinois past the Milwaukee men's soccer team by a final score of 2-1 Tuesday evening at Engelmann Stadium.
The Panthers (5-3-1) scored quickly against the Huskies (7-2-0), but could not find another goal early to help take control of the match. NIU came out fast in the second half, equalizing just after intermission before finding the winner in the 64th minute to reclaim possession of the LeWang Cup.
"I think the momentum changed," head coach Kris Kelderman said. "I thought we had a pretty good first half. Going in at halftime we had the lead and I was very pleased with how we came out at the start of the game."
The first goal came in the 11th minute, starting with Evan Conway carrying the ball down the right wing. His cross found Cameron Williams, who had his shot blocked after turning and firing. The ball came right to Sean Reynolds, who buried the strike inside the left post to make it 1-0 at the 10:53 mark.
MKE had a few other quality chances early. Vuk Latinovich's free kick was punched away in the fourth minute, with the rebound getting sent just high by Suad Suljic.
In the 20th minute it was Sean Holmes sending a low, dipping shot to the post, only to be denied on a diving stop by the NIU keeper.
"We came out with a lot of energy and had some chances early to get that second goal," Kelderman said. "We got off to a good start and let them linger and it cost us in the second half."
The Huskies took advantage of an opening in the 48th minute, making it a new game at the 47:53 mark.
Milwaukee nearly had the quick response. It was Suljic again, this time on a free kick. His 25-yard attempt went to a near-perfect spot, but was just unable to tuck it into the upper right corner of the goal in the 55th minute of play.
"In the second half, Northern Illinois just picked it up a notch, they took it to us," Kelderman said. "They got the early goal, caught us in transition, and I thought at that time we lost a fair amount of composure and lost some sharpness. They kept coming at us and we couldn't deal with it."
Goalkeeper Freddy Lorenzen made six saves for the Panthers, including a big stop on a corner kick in the 79th minute that kept the deficit at one and gave his team a chance. The Panthers pushed forward at the end, but ran out of time.
For the game the stats were near-even, with both teams recording 16 shots (NIU had the 8-5 edge in shots on frame). Both teams earned three corner kicks and the fouls were 18-15, NIU.
Suljic and Latinovich paced Milwaukee with four shots apiece.
It's a return to Horizon League play next for MKE, welcoming Green Bay to Engelmann Stadium Saturday. The "Chancellor's Cup" will be on the line against the Phoenix, set for a starting time of 7 p.m.