DEKALB -- Sophomore Isaac Kannah broke the deadlock in the 84th minute as the Northern Illinois men’s soccer team defeated West Virginia, 1-0, on Saturday afternoon at the NIU Soccer Complex.
Kannah’s second goal of the season, and the fourth of his NIU career, lifts the Huskies into second-place in the Mid-American Conference with a 3-1-1 league mark (5-8-3 overall).
“I’m happy for the guys,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. “It took us 15 games to get a 90-minute performance and we have been fortunate enough to have two in a row now. It is also about the sixth game in a row that the entire game has been dictated by the wind. We were all over them in the first half, could have been up 2-0 or 3-0 in the first five minutes (but) don’t finish the chances. In the second half, they had the wind, we were on our heels a lot, the guys defended well and then we found the breakthrough.
“I’m pleased for the guys (they) have gotten some reward for the belief they have maintained and the work they have put in.”
With the 1-0 victory, senior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey collected the 33rd shutout of his career, extending his school record. His 33rd career clean sheet also moves him within three of the top-10 in NCAA history in career shutouts, Godsey is currently alone in 11th all-time in Division I history.
The Huskies nearly scored inside of a minute as junior Sean Totsch hit the post with the opening chance of the game. Junior Karim Darbaki got a head on the follow-up opportunity but his header went high and the game remained scoreless.
Playing with the advantage of a strong wind in the first half, NIU continued coming forward and created another chance in the sixth minute. Kannah had a shot from a tight angle inside the six-yard box but West Virginia goalkeeper Pat Eavenson did well to keep the match level.
Late in the first half, the Huskies had another excellent opportunity to open the scoring. Kannah crossed a ball to the back post where sophomore Jayson LeSeth was able to collect and shoot back across the face of goal. LeSeth’s 41st minute effort had Eavenson beaten but was cleared off the line by the West Virginia defense.
West Virginia (8-5-2, 3-2-1 MAC) was able to take advantage of the wind in the second half as Andy Bevin had a pair of chances inside the opening two minutes of the second 45, one of which forced a save from Godsey.
A chance by LeSeth that just missed high in the 49th minute helped relief the pressure momentarily for NIU, but the Mountaineers went right back on the attack, with Godsey being called upon twice more before the hour mark.
Godsey finished the match with seven saves.
With overtime looming, the Huskies finally got the breakthrough in the 84th minute. Freshman Miles Stockman-Willis played freshman Matt Pritchard into a good position down the wing. Pritchard did well to get into a position for a cross and played a perfect ball into the run of Kannah. The Plymouth, Minn., native took a touch and then made no mistake, calmly burying a shot past Eavenson from just inside the 18-yard box to give NIU a 1-0 advantage.
Less than 30 seconds after the goal, Godsey had to be sharp to catch a long-distance shot from Majed Osman, but that was the only time West Virginia would test the NIU goalkeeper in the final minutes as the Huskies closed the home portion of their schedule with a victory.
Northern Illinois will return to action on Tuesday, Oct. 30, when they travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., to face Western Michigan. The match with the Broncos is scheduled for 12 p.m. CT, and the contest will be played at Kalamazoo College.