EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Aaron Crabtree banged in his first career goal in the fifth minute of the second overtime Wednesday, sending SIUE to a 3-2 win over Northern Illinois at Korte Stadium.
The Cougars snapped a five-game losing streak with the win and improved to 5-5 overall and 2-5 in Mid-American Conference play. NIU fell to 5-6-1 overall and 4-4 in the MAC.
"This was a big time performance from our guys," SIUE Head Coach Cale Wassermann said. "It was a really tough match. NIU has some talented players and they are athletic."
The goal came follwing an SIUE free kick which was played into the six-yard box. When NIU tried to clear, the ball came to Crabtree, who settled and before burying the shot in the top of the net. The Cougars prevailed after the Huskies tied the score with just 40 seconds to play in regulation when MAC scoring leader Nick Markanich headed in from close range.
"I was proud of our group for battling until the final whistle," Wassermann added. "We had some adversity with 40 seconds left and this group showed again that no matter what happens we're not going to back down."
After a scoreless first half, Vincent Jackson II opened the scoring, just two and a half minutes into the second half. He took the ball away from the NIU defense, and lifted a shot into the upper corner, with the outside of his right foot to put SIUE up 1-0. It came on the Cougars' first shot on goal of the game.
"Vincent Jackson is a very creative player," Wassermann said. "This goal was a little difficult. He took it away from pressure and used the outside of the right foot. He's got the skill and the creativity to look for those moments."
Markanich scored his first of the day when he broke through into the box and slid the game-tying goal under SIUE goalkeeper Lluís Martorell in the 65th minute.
The Huskies outshot SIUE 14-11 for the game and 10-2 in the second half. SIUE had a 4-1 edge in shots in the two overtime periods.
"The wind played a bigger factor than maybe we expected," Wassermann said. "In the second half, NIU had the wind which put us under some pressure."
The Huskies peppered the SIUE goal with 10 shots, all coming after halftime. Martorell held strong, making eight saves.
"He had a couple of big time saves and he took care of the ones he was supposed to take care of," Wassermann said of his goalkeeper. "At one point we had 6-7 corner kicks that we had to defend. He got his hands on almost every one. He kept us in the game until the last second."
The game featured 26 total corner kicks, including 15 from Northern Illinois.
"Our guys came out fired up in the overtime," Wassermann said. "We said all week no matter what happens, no matter how many guys we have available we're playing this game until the final whistle today."
The Cougars are next scheduled to face West Virginia on the road April 18.
We've been much more dangerous over the last two games than we were the previous two weeks. We're starting to show that even with limited bodies. Our guys are getting comfortable in the positions we are asking them to play.
With our injuries, we have asked guys to play out of position. With time, they have grown into those spots and now we are showing what we are capable of in the attack.