KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- The Northern Illinois men’s soccer team saw its three-match shutout streak come to an end with a 2-0 loss at Western Michigan on Tuesday afternoon. Goals from Jason Grant in the 78th minute and Erik Kelly in the 86th minute helped give the Broncos the victory.
“I thought on the whole it was it was not our best performance,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. “Credit to Western Michigan, I thought they outworked us for parts of the game and they were certainly more efficient and more clinical with their chances. We had chances early on, throughout really, to put them away, but there was just a little bit of a general lack of sharpness from our group, which is surprising based on how the last couple of weeks have been.”
Senior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey was called into action less than four minutes into the match when a shot from Grant forced Godsey to come up with a save.
Northern Illinois (5-9-3, 3-2-1 MAC) responded well and had a pair of chances in the eighth minute. Bronco goalkeeper Sean Lewis stopped shots from senior Pat Sloan and junior James Stevenson to keep the match scoreless in the early going.
Still scoreless entering the final minutes of the first half, Godsey made three saves in the final six minutes before the break to keep the game 0-0. A header from Western Michigan’s Florian Scheck was saved by Godsey in the 39th minute. Godsey was also called into action to stop shots from Hjalmar Danielsen and Connor Furgason, keeping the match level at the half.
Following the intermission, junior Karim Darbaki had an early attempt for NIU, shooting just wide in the 47th minute. Darbaki had another chance in the 63rd minute, but his shot was saved by Lewis.
In the 67th minute, sophomore Jayson LeSeth had Lewis beaten, but his shot was cleared away by the Western Michigan defense. Five minutes later the pressure continued to come from NIU as freshman Miles Stockman-Willis had a shot saved and freshman Matt Pritchard followed up with a chance that went wide.
Lewis was called into action again in the 74th minute, stopping a shot from junior Sean Totsch.
Western Michigan (11-5-2, 3-2-1 MAC) broke the deadlock in the 78th minute on a goal by Grant. Ryan Lemasters fed a pass to Grant who beat Godsey low to the back post from outside the six-yard box. The goal was the first conceded by the Huskies in 445 minutes of play. Prior to today, the last goal allowed by the Huskies came in the 13th minute against Valparaiso on Oct. 17.
With the Huskies pushing for an equalizer, Kelly doubled the advantage for the Broncos. Oliver Mayer passed to Kelly who scored to give Western Michigan a 2-0 lead in the 86th minute.
With today’s result, four teams, NIU, Bowling Green, West Virginia and Western Michigan, are currently tied for second-place in the MAC with 3-2-1 conference records. NIU will conclude the regular season on Friday, Nov. 2, when the Huskies travel to Buffalo, N.Y., to face the Bulls. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.