By CEDRIQUE FLEMMING
In an almost fitting end to what is becoming an intense rivalry, the No. 6-ranked Northeastern State men’s soccer team played to a 2-2 draw against No. 21 Fort Hays State Thursday night at DeLoache Field.
NSU (3-0-2, 0-0-1 MIAA) looked to be in firm control of proceedings after putting away two goals in the first half, but a pair of markers in the second half from the visitors allowed the Tigers (5-1-1, 1-0-1 MIAA) to escape with the draw.
“This is a good rivalry, and tonight was a good match,” NSU coach Rob Czlonka said. “We didn’t play our sharpest tonight. Our touches were off and our passes weren’t as crisp as I would like. Fort Hays played us better than most other teams have, and teams can take advantage of us if we’re not playing our best.”
Junior forward Juan Peralta put the home side ahead in the ninth minute, and sophomore forward Brandon Carter added to the lead in the 38th minute.
In an interesting twist, FHSU’s Daniel Peralta scored a penalty kick in the 59th minute that sparked what became the game-tying comeback. When the two teams met in Tahlequah during the regular season last year, it was Juan, Daniel’s younger brother, who scored the game-tying PK in the 82nd minute to lift the RiverHawks to a 1-1 draw.
With the draw, NSU remains unbeaten at home against FHSU over the last three years. The two teams are now 2-2-2 overall over that span.
“Over the years, the rivalry between us keeps getting more intense,” said NSU junior defender Terence Smith, who has played in all six matches with FHSU over the last three years. “We’ve produced great matches every time we play them. We love to play them, and we’re looking forward to going up there later in the season.”
Northeastern State will remain home for a 1 p.m. matchup Sept. 28 against Southern Nazarene.