The Northern Kentucky University men’s soccer team ended its season last Wednesday, a couple of games before it was ready.
For the second straight season, the Norse lost in the first round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament, 3-2 to Quincy University, at the Town and Country Sports Complex in Wilder, Ky.
“We played well. It was a pretty even game,” NKU head coach John Toebben said. “Losing the game was disappointing for the gentlemen, but these things happen.”
The Hawks got on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead midway through the first half of the game. Kevin Vaninger scored the unassisted goal for Quincy, who went into halftime holding a one goal lead.
NKU, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, outshot the No. 5 seed Hawks 5-2 in the first half but couldn’t find any offense to speak of.
“We didn’t have luck finishing; they did,” Toebben said.
However, the Norse found their niche again early in the second half. With only one and a half minutes gone by in the half, NKU freshman David Gajus scored a goal off a cross by junior Mike Poole to tie the game at 1-1. About nine minutes later, Quincy regained the lead on a rebound shot by Simon Bitcon.
Later in the half, the Hawks put some distance between them and the Norse as Matt Spector knocked in a direct kick from around 30 yards out to give Quincy a 3-1 lead. The Hawks held that lead most of the second half, but NKU wasn’t ready to give up quite yet. The Norse got on the board again with four minutes left in the game. Junior Ben Otto scored a goal off an assist by senior Kevin Crone as Quincy’s deficit was cut to 3-2. NKU would never threaten again as the team ended its season with the one goal loss to the Hawks.
“In the second half, I think we controlled the game,” Toebben said. “But we gave up goals we shouldn’t have.We just didn’t put the ball into the net.”
Quincy moved on to the semifinals of the GLVC Tournament as they played No. 1 seed Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. The Norse ended their season with a 10-9 record. The soccer team lost its last two games of the year. NKU now looks forward to next season. With only three seniors (Crone, Nathan Gindele and Aaron Pitzer) on this year’s team, the Norse have plenty of experience coming back next season, including nine juniors and five sophomores.
“We are going to be stronger and more mature next season. We’ll be better than this year,” Toebben said.