Aug. 18, 2007
DeKALB, Ill. - In a ceaseless rain that shifted from drizzle to downpour, the Northern Illinois men's soccer team fell 2-0 to DePaul in both team's exhibition opener, Saturday at Huskie Stadium.
Northern Illinois head coach Steve Simmons and the game management staff decided to move the match from Huskie Soccer Field to the home of the NIU football team after rain drenched the soccer facility most of the afternoon.
"For our guys to have to quickly adjust to very wet FieldTurf was something I knew would be a challenge," Simmons said. "But we were looking to get more from this game than wins and losses."
Simmons said one of his objectives was to see as many of his players in a match situation as possible, which he did. The fifth-year head coach saw 22 Huskies in action during the preseason contest, and used the opportunity to work out some of the details of Northern Illinois' substitution patterns.
"It's not so much the line-up, but those 18 to 20 spots that we were looking for," he said.
One thing Simmons noticed in his examination was a sluggish start from the Huskies.
"We were a little slow out of the gate, but we did some good things, also," he said. "In the second half, we created the lion's share of chances, though we weren't able to score on any of them."
Simmons' analysis agrees with the statistics. DePaul outshot NIU 4-1 in the first half, but the Huskies had five chances to the Blue Demons' two in the second period.
Despite the abundance of opportunities, Northern Illinois' attackers couldn't counter a pair of first-half goals from DePaul.
The Blue Demons' first score came off one of four corner-kicks in the opening period. During the eighth minute, DePaul's Mark Plotkin fired a cross out of the left corner that Huskie Steve Algozino (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln Way East) tried to clear, but instead put into the Huskie net for an own goal.
DePaul added an insurance score at the 41:25 mark, as two Huskies failed to clear the ball out of the box, allowing Mangan to capitalize on a one-on-one opportunity against Van Buren.
"We were a little off-balance twice to clear the ball, which was zipping in extra, extra fast on the FieldTurf," Simmons said.
Despite the score, Simmons felt the exhibition produced positive results for the team and the coaching staff.
"Overall, outside of the first fifteen minutes, we got out of it what we wanted to get out of it," Simmons said. "We got a feel for where we want to go."
The Huskies will have one more opportunity to hone their game, taking on Marquette, Aug. 24, for an exhibition in Milwaukee, Wis. Northern Illinois will open the regular season against Bucknell, Aug. 31, at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic.