Men’s soccer grabs first Valley win in 2-0 shutout of Northern Illinois


The Purple Aces have now won three straight games against the Huskies at Arad McCutchan Stadium dating back to 2013

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The University of Evansville men’s soccer team picked up their first three points of Missouri Valley Conference play thanks to a big second-half effort.

Forward Kai Phillip continued his monumental offensive output for the Purple Aces with goals five and six of the season in their 2-0 win over the Northern Illinois Huskies on Saturday night. Goalkeeper Jacob Madden also picked up his second shutout of the season making two saves in the win for UE. Defender Tobias Bak set a career-high on Saturday evening with three shots, putting two on goal, an effort also matched by Phillip.

“It’s crucial to win games at home in conference,” said Interim Head Coach Robbe Tarver following the win. “I think it was super tough and we had to withstand some pressure, especially at the end from NIU. I thought NIU took the game to us a little bit tonight. But we were able to stay a little bit more composed than we have been in the past. And then really capitalizing those big moments that we’ve been harping on, winning the next moment.

“We did that tonight in two crucial spots to get two crucial goals and a missed penalty. I think Madden did well on that to guess correctly and force him to go high in the corner so he missed. You talk about moments and we won the moments tonight and got the win.”

Saturday’s game began quickly with four shots in the first ten minutes as both teams attacked the net. The Aces forced Northern Illinois goalkeeper to make three saves early, showing a renewed offensive attack after struggling on Tuesday. The first half slowed down midway through with several battles at midfield. UE picked up the offense again in the final five minutes of the first with shots on goal from wingers Nkosi Graham and Auden Engen Vik to end the frame.

Evansville carried the offensive momentum into the second half, breaking the draw with a goal in the 53rd minute. Defender Nalu Wagner kept the ball in on the left side near the Aces bench, moving into open space to the left of the penalty area. Wagner’s cross found Phillip just outside the right corner of the goal box, where he put the header into the top right corner. Phillip also scored the second and final goal for UE in the final five minutes of the game. After struggling with the game winding down this season, Phillip broke the spell with a fake-out in front of the middle of the penalty area. The ball sailed into the bottom left corner past NIU’s keeper for a score in the 87th minute.

The Aces have a week between games to get ready for a trip to Bowling Green. It will be the team’s first meeting since 2015 as well as their first as conference opponents. Kick-off from Cochrane Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 30 is set for 6 p.m. CT.