Norse win opener in extra time


Austin Elmore, Contributor

The NKU Norse men’s soccer team opened up the 2017 season with a 2-1 extra time win against Oakland City on Friday night at the NKU Soccer Stadium.

“It’s really important for the chemistry,” sophomore Wlademir Babaew said. “A win, especially in the first game, it doesn’t matter who we are playing, it always pushes the team and gives us confidence.”

The Norse dominated the game during the first half, but couldn’t break the Oakland City defense and score. NKU finished the first half with five shots and nine corner kicks. The Norse defense saw little action, and the score was tied at zero at halftime.

NKU needed only nine minutes to break the deadlock in the second half with a goal in the 54th minute by sophomore Rikard Lindqvist, who was assisted by junior Tom Suchecki.

“He (Lindqvist) was an incredible player as a freshman for me last year in Buffalo and we saw tonight, what he’s all about,” head coach Stu Riddle said. “He’s a goal scoring threat, he can be creative and get assists, and he looked really sharp out there tonight, so I’d be worried if I was any other Horizon League teams.”

One minute later, Oakland City’s Gustavo Cardier was issued a straight red card by referee Khary Williams for fighting, meaning the Mighty Oaks played with 10 men the rest of the game. NKU’s Alex Greive was issued a yellow card during the altercation.

Oakland City answered with a goal of their own two minutes later when Jack Cookson scored off of a rebound from 20 yards out.

In the 61st minute, Oakland City’s Alejandro Chavarri was also issued a red card for colliding with Babaew from behind.

“The first thing that we had to do was make sure that our players cooled down,” Riddle said. “Then we were completely in control of the game.”

With Oakland City down to just nine men, the Norse continued to dominate possession and kept the ball in the Oakland City half of the field for a majority of the second half, peppering Oakland City goalkeeper Walid Birrou Esafi.

“It was a bit frustrating when you have chances but you don’t score,” Babaew said. “Everyone kept fighting and believing that we can win this game, it was important that everyone continued pushing through.”

The Norse couldn’t breakthrough in the second half, despite adding 22 shots, including seven shots on goal and 11 corner kicks, and the game went to extra time tied at one goal a piece.

After a scoreless extra time period, the Norse won in the 103rd minute when Babaew headed a ball into the back of the net off of a corner kick by Lindqvist, giving the Norse their first win of the season.

“It was an incredible ball, just perfectly on my head,” Babaew said. “I just finished it, I didn’t see where the ball went because I fell down, I got up, saw the ball in the net, and it was an incredible feeling.”

NKU hosts U.C. Irvine in their next match on Sunday, Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. The game will be available to watch on ESPN3.