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The Northerner

Men’s soccer loses in quarterfinals

Matt Birkholtz

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The historic season for the Northern Kentucky University’s Men’s Soccer Team ended with a 2-1 loss to Lincoln Memorial University Nov. 18 at the Town ‘ Country Sports Complex in Wilder, Ky.

After starting the season 21-0, the Norse dropped two of its last four games to end the year at 22-2.

For NKU’s Soccer Head Coach John Basaylga it was a heartfelt defeat to see his first recruiting class lose its last game at home.

“The 10 seniors took a chance on coming here,” Basaylga said. “They were not heavily recruited by Division I schools are very good players and decided to stay close to home. They did a great job in building this program year by year. In the last two years we won 38 games. That’s impressive.”

The Norse had plenty of chances to take the lead in the game as NKU had 23 shots, compared to 9 shots by Lincoln Memorial.

“(Lincoln Memorial) had two chances to score compared to our seven one-one chances and we got none,” Basaylga said. “Their seasoning our inexperience. We wanted to run and they didn’t. The referee allowed that stuff to happen, but that is not the reason for our loss. Lincoln Memorial capitalized on its shots and we did not.”

Lincoln Memorial scored the first goal of the game in the 18th minute of the quarterfinal match. Railsplitters’ senior mid-fielder Nelson Pizarro notched the goal for his 14th score of the season.

The Norse countered the goal in the 28th minute with a goal by senior mid-fielder Tony Capurro.

The game was ruled primarily to defense and yellow cards, as six were issued during the game, four to NKU and two to Lincoln Memorial.

“I ran into three players during the game and I have never done that before,” Norse senior defender Andy Bacon said. “I felt like I ran into my eight-year old nephew every time they fell on the ground. The refs just let it go too.”

In the 71st minute, Pizarro scored the game-winning goal from 19 yards out with a lob over the keeper.

The struggles to get any momentum caused the Norse to have bad shots on the goal. With the calls during the game it was tough for anything to go on the field.

“We dictated the game and we had our chances to win,” Bacon said. “We had seven chances to score and could have won 8-1, but we lost 2-1.”

Looking back on the season, the players have seen the improvements that have been made in the program and look forward to more success in the years to come.

“I believe we revolutionized the program and turned it around,” Bacon said. “(Basaylga) was a high school coach. We played for or against each other during high school and coming here we really gelled together. When I look back on this to believe we were No. 1 in the nation, it’s pretty amazing. I hope we built the blocks for this program to get a national championship”

For Basaylga this was a team he will not forget.

“This team was handpicked for their personality and mine,” he said. “They will go later on in life and look back and say, ‘We were the No.1 team in the nation for five weeks.’ Who can really say that? I am pleased.”

Editor’s Note: Reed Sparks contributed to this story. Please keep checking www.thenortherner.com for photos from the game.

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Men’s soccer loses in quarterfinals