EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE freshman Kelby Phillips netted his first collegiate goal half way through the second overtime period Saturday to complete a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference opener.
SIUE has won four straight and improved to 8-1-2 overall and 1-0 in the MAC. Northern Illinois has lost two in a row and fell to 7-4 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
"To start the MAC that way is fantastic," SIUE Head Coach Mario Sanchez said. "What a game. I give so much credit to Northern Illinois because they are by far the best team we have played this year. It was an exciting, fun game and we're obviously happy to get the result."
Phillips scored the game winner in the 106th minute. Following some impressive combination play from Greg Solawa and Keegan McHugh, McHugh got the ball on the end line before guiding a pass through to the top of the six-yard box, where Phillips finished.
"Kelby has been knocking on the door, and he finally gets his goal," Sanchez said.
Northern Illinois opened a 2-0 lead in just more than 30 minutes in the first half. Alex Welch put the Huskies on the board with a shot from 20 yards out in the eighth minute. Nick Markanich made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute scoring from short range after a pass from MAC assist-leader Kevin Rodriguez.
Sanchez praised his younger players for settling the game down from that point.
"I give credit to the young kids. At one point we brought on three or four freshmen," he said. "They played without fear. They changed the momentum in the first half."
The Cougars pulled within one in the 40th minute. Phillips delivered a cross into the box from the right side. Lachlan McLean headed it on, but NIU goalkeeper Konrad Dziedzic made the save. The rebound came back to McLean who scored to make it 2-1.
"To get that goal with five minutes to go in the first half was huge," Sanchez said. "It gave us a little bit of belief. It gave us a lifeline."
McLean leveled the score in the second half with his team-leading seventh goal of the season. TC Hull picked up the assist.
Northern Illinois outshot SIUE 14-11 for the game.
The Cougars go back on the road to face Butler in Indianapolis on Tuesday.