Bufton’s late goal gives NKU men’s soccer 2-1 victory over Oakland
The Norse are now 2-1 on the season
February 22, 2021
With their last scheduled game against Wright State being canceled, the Northern Kentucky Norse men’s soccer team played their first game in over a week on Monday afternoon, and picked up a crucial conference win, beating the Oakland Golden Grizzlies 2-1.
With the victory, the Norse improved to 2-1 on the season, and have now won their last two games, with both of them coming at home. Monday’s win was NKU’s second win in program history against Oakland. With the loss, Oakland fell to 2-1-1 on the season.
“We’ve been working really hard, keeping our mindset right, doing all the right things and it paid off today,” junior forward Dylan Bufton said.
The match started out slowly for both teams, as neither team was able to record a shot on the goal until the 29:47 mark of the first half, when a shot by Oakland’s Noah Jensen was saved by NKU goalkeeper Daniel Bermingham.
However, the action quickly intensified in the final minutes of the first half. With the game scoreless, NKU freshman Deryn Armstrong fired a header past Oakland goalkeeper Finn Jurak and into the net, pushing the Norse ahead 1-0. The assist on the play went to Bufton and sophomore midfielder Ryan Godding.
But the Norse would not hold the lead for long, as NKU freshman midfielder Roberto Burlew was whistled for a foul with just six seconds remaining in the half, leading to a penalty kick for the Golden Grizzlies.
Jensen was the player to take the shot for Oakland, and was able to get it past Bermingham, tying the score up at 1-1 going into halftime.
The second half began quite similarly to the first half. Neither team was able to manufacture many shots on the goal, as the Norse recorded just four total shots in the second half.
With the clock continuing to wind down, the match appeared to be headed for a tie, before a crucial play by one of the Norse newcomers tilted the score back in NKU’s favor.
In the 82nd minute, Bufton received a corner kick from Godding and headed the ball into the net, sneaking it past Jurak in the goal to give the Norse the decisive 2-1 advantage.
“Not only is he a top player, but he is an incredible character,” Head Coach Stu Riddle said about Bufton. “The way he leads this team in practice everyday, he’s got great experience in playing at the highest levels in junior college and competing for national championships, so he has been fantastic for us.”
In the last two victories for the Norse, the defensive effort has been a driving force in NKU’s stellar play. Against Milwaukee on Feb. 10, NKU shut out the Panthers for the 1-0 victory, holding them to only seven shots for the game.
On Monday, NKU continued to apply that same type of defensive pressure, once again allowing just seven shots. Perhaps more impressive was that the Golden Grizzlies did not record a single shot on the goal for the duration of the second half.
“We didn’t give them any clear-cut opportunities, and that’s what the game plan was, and they have all bought in and worked hard for each other,” Riddle said.
The Golden Grizzlies came into the 2021 season as one of the favorites to win the Horizon League, ranked in a tie for first in the Horizon League preseason poll. The Norse, ranked eighth in the same poll at the beginning of the season, did not back down from the challenge.
“We knew what we had to do, and we came out with the win. I’m proud of the boys,” Bufton said.
The Norse will hit the road for the first time during the 2021 spring season on Sunday, Feb. 28 to take on the Cleveland State Vikings. The match will begin at 1:00 p.m.