DEKALB, ILL. – The Panthers fell behind early and, like on many occasions this season, failed to get much offensive momentum throughout most of the game, but scored two late goals to upend Northern Illinois, 2-1, on Tuesday Night. It was the team’s third win of the season.
Head coach Kris Kelderman spoke on how his team responded in the second half.
“I challenged the guys at halftime,” he said. “I told them we were due for a win. We have been pleased with the way we have been playing but haven’t been able to grind out a result. We said ‘tonight is the night, we have to do this’, and I couldn’t be happier. We got two great goals and we needed that. When you are playing well, but not getting results it wears on you. It affects your confidence … this is huge for our guys.”
In addition, he commented on how satisfying it is to keep the LeWang Cup trophy and how he hopes the team can use the win as a springboard for the rest of the season.
“It’s been sitting in my office for a good number of years and I get to bring it back,” he said. “I told the guys, if we can come out and play like this in the second half (of the season) and do well, this could be a turning point in the season for us and hopefully that is the case.”
The Huskies got the early goal at the 9:16 mark in the first half when defender Luke Read headed in a shot off an assist from midfielder Max Voss. NIU carried the one-goal advantage for 66 minutes after that.
However, Milwaukee tied the game and took the lead not long after that. Freshman midfielder Francesco Saporito took on the role of facilitator, as he assisted on both goals, scored by defender Jonathan Stadler and forward Nick Moon, respectively. Stadler’s goal came 11 minutes after he first entered the game.
With this two-goal spurt, the Panthers took the lead and were able to rely on their tough defense to carry them the rest of the way. Senior goalkeeper Agustin Rey, who has been brilliant in the net for Milwaukee all season, was credited with three saves for the game. One of those was a diving save in the 73rd minute that kept the Huskies’ advantage at one.
Milwaukee won the shots battle, 10-8, but NIU was more efficient, as the Huskies had five shots on goal to the Panthers’ four.
Physical games have been commonplace for Milwaukee all season, and this one was no different, as the two teams combined for 37 total fouls (UWM 21, NIU 16). The Huskies dominated the corner kick stat-line, 8-3.
The Panthers remain on the road for their next game against Horizon League opponent Belmont in Nashville, Tenn. on Saturday at 6 p.m. Northern Illinois stays in their backyard to face IUPUI on Tuesday.