May 3, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. -- The Northern Illinois men's soccer team recently concluded its 2013 spring season, a spring highlighted by winning the Governor's Cup for the ninth time in the last 11 seasons.
"On the whole, I was really pleased with our spring season," said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. "Our guys made huge strides individually and collectively in terms of our quality of play. We scored quite a few goals, which was a problem for us last fall. And the quality of how we kept and moved the ball, and how hard we worked when we didn't have the ball was extremely high.
"I was really pleased with how well we played, and equally pleased that we re-established our identity as a team of warriors when required. The quality of our play won us a few games this spring, but our mentality and toughness won us the Governor's Cup. When you put those two characteristics together, you have the recipe for a successful team."
After opening with a victory over Loyola-Chicago indoors in their traditional coaches clinic game, the Huskies played their first outdoor match of the spring on March 23, besting Lewis University, 4-0. Dusty Page and Gael Rivera were both on target for NIU and James Stevenson added a brace to get the Huskies off to a good start to their spring.
NIU was back in action on April 6 when the Huskies claimed their second consecutive 4-0 victory, this time over UIC. Kyle Crichton and Jayson LeSeth each scored against the Flames while Stevenson tallied two more to bring his spring total to four through two games.
A week later in the Governor's Cup, the Huskies traveled to Macomb, looking to bring the trophy home for the fifth-straight season. NIU took on host Western Illinois in the opening round, advancing to the final thanks to a goal from Bertrand Gaschot.
In the final, the Huskies met SIU Edwardsville with the cup on the line. Despite chances both ways, neither team was able to find a breakthrough and the game went to penalty kicks. The Cougars proved to be no match for the Huskies from the penalty spot as NIU won 3-0 on penalties. Stevenson, Paul Hogan and Mike Mascitti converted for the Huskies while Miles Herbert made a pair of saves in goal to help the Huskies bring home the trophy.
In the spring finale, NIU, who played with few or not substitutes the entire spring, ran out of gas against Wisconsin, falling to the Badgers, 3-0.
"We certainly had our challenges this spring -- we only had 12 players, and had to deal with a couple of injuries at various points of the spring season," said Luzzi. "Our guys did a fantastic job of not making excuses for themselves. They brought a very professional approach every day this spring, which will have huge benefits for us this fall. Most importantly, we were able to refocus on our team dynamic and make sure that is spot on. As a staff, we really enjoyed working with this group, and can't wait until we can get back together with them and our new guys in August. We definitely have the pieces to do great things this fall."