NIU, Bradley win; Northwestern, Loyola lose in NCAA soccer
Northern Illinois goalie Jordan Godsey. (Northern Illinois athletics)
For winning the Mid-American Conference tournament after avoiding Akron, a semifinal loser, the Northern Illinois men's soccer team drew a home game against Western Illinois, which ranked 106th nationally in RPI (a measure of performance and strength of schedule.)
Not hard to figure how that turned out Thursday.
Akron ended Northwestern's 11-game unbeaten streak and the Wildcats' season 3-1 Thursday night.
Posting its sixth shutout in the last eight games, Northern Illinois opened the NCAA tournament with a 3-0 romp over Western Illinois Thursday afternoon in DeKalb.
But maybe that wasn't as odd as it seemed, since Northern (24) had a higher RPI than either Akron (30) or Northwestern (34), even though the Huskies lost to both 2-0 during the regular season.
And Bradley got a goal from sophomore Keegan Balle of Naperville with four minutes left to breat Loyola 2-1 in Peoria.
The Braves (15-5-2), who rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit as Loyola's (7-12-2) shutout string ended after five games, go on to play at 12th-seeded Louisville Sunday night. Senior Bryan Gaul of Naperville assisted on the first goal and kept a loose ball alive in the Loyola end so fellow Neuqua High graduate Balle could knock it home for the winner.
Northern Illinois (15-5) advances to a second-round match Sunday at second-seeded Creighton.
The Huskies made the NCAA tournament for the third time in the program's 50-year history by winning the Mid-American Conference last weekend.
This is the second time the Huskies have gotten past the first round. They also did it in 2006 before losing to Indiana in the second round.
Thursday's shutout was the 12th of the season for Northern's All-MAC goalie, junior Jordan Godsey of Ocean Springs, Miss. He needed to make just one save against an overmatched Western Illinois (13-7-1) team, which was outshot 19-9.
It was Western's fifth NCAA tourney appearance, all since 2004. The Leathernecks have yet to win a game.
Sophomore defender Seat Totsch of Oswego gave the Huskies the only goal they needed in the 19th minute. Freshman Issac Kannah of Plymouth, Minn., made it 2-0 just before halftime and junior Mike Mascitti of Downers Grove added his first goal of the season in the 72nd minute.
Totsch also had scored in the 1-0 win over Western Michigan to give the Huskies their second MAC title. Only a week earlier, in the regular-season finale, he had the first goal of his college career.
Akron (14-3-4) got goals in the 26th and 54th minutes before Peter O'Neill's penalty kick put the Wildcats (11-5-5) back in the game. But sophomore Darren Mattocks of Jamaica, the fourth leading scorer in Division I, scored his 19th goal of the season in the 76th minute to clinch Akron's victory.