The NKU and UIC men’s soccer teams played to a 0-0 double overtime draw on Saturday afternoon at the NKU Soccer Stadium.
“Really proud of the guys,” head coach Stu Riddle said. “Here’s a team that won the league last year and we fought them to the death. We could have snatched it at the end but they could have snatched it a couple of times throughout the game.”
The Norse are now 6-3-4 on the season with a 2-2-2 record in Horizon League play while the Flames are 5-5-2 on the season with a 3-2-1 record in league play.
Jim Barkei made 10 saves in the match, including a couple of diving saves that kept the Flames from going ahead in the match.
Tonight’s match was also the seventh shutout the Norse have recorded in the 2017 season.
“We really put a good effort in,” Barkei said. “We weren’t looking like ourselves from before. In practice we just upped the intensity and put the emphasis on battling for the first and second balls. That’s who we are as a team. We are going to go out there and grind and beat you down physically.”
Neither team could get much of anything going in the first half. UIC shot nine times and put four shots on goal, but only a couple of those attempts were particularly dangerous. The Norse shot five times and managed to put two shots on goal.
Both teams collected 20 total fouls in the first half and three yellow cards, with two of those yellow cards coming against the Norse.
The Norse shot seven times in the second half while UIC shot seven times, but neither team was able to find the back of the net.
The Flames were squeezing the middle of the field, according to Riddle, so the Norse were trying to utilize the wing-backs more in the second half.
“We were trying to get our wing-backs really pushed forward,” Riddle said. “I thought Abdul and TJ and Brett did a really good job of that in the second half. Consequently it allowed us to have a little bit more play in the opponent half and create some chances to score.”
Two overtime periods would not be enough to decide the match, as neither team could score. The Flames had several chances at a goal, with one shot bouncing off the right post.
The Norse will look ahead to a three game road trip, starting with Wright State next Saturday at 7 p.m.. The Norse will then play Detroit Mercy and Evansville before returning home to face Green Bay to end the regular season.
“Tonight’s result tells everyone that we are back,” Riddle said. “We had a couple of blips there and to get a point of the reigning champions shows everyone that we are here all the way and we will be fighting for the title.”