Aug. 23, 2011
DEKALB, Ill. -- The Northern Illinois men's soccer team was picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference preseason coaches' poll, the league office announced on Tuesday.
NIU was selected behind defending conference and national champion Akron. Western Michigan is just one point behind the Huskies in third, Bowling Green claims fourth with Buffalo, Hartwick and Florida Atlantic rounding out the preseason poll.
"Obviously Akron is the clear favorite in our conference, they are the defending national champions and they are extremely talented again this year," said head coach Eric Luzzi. "After Akron, I think that every one of the other six teams is improved from last year, so I think every single conference game is going to be a battle. As a whole, I think our conference is going to surprise some people this year."
The Huskies went 3-0 in exhibition play, including a 2-1 victory over No. 19 Michigan State this past Saturday at the Shindigz National Soccer Festival in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Northern Illinois is coming off a 9-6-2 record a season ago, including its fifth-straight Lewang Cup victory over Milwaukee. The Huskies also went 2-0 against Big Ten Conference foes, defeating Wisconsin and Northwestern.
Offensively, the Huskies return Finn Jor and James Stevenson. The pair tied for second on the team in goal scoring last season. On the backline, returning All-MAC defender Francis Otira anchors the Huskies while in goal Jordan Godsey returns for NIU after posting a 0.71 goals against average and a MAC-best .820 save percentage in 15 appearances a season ago.
NIU will open the regular season on Saturday, Aug. 27 when the Huskies travel to meet Saint Louis. The regular season opener against the Billikens is scheduled for 7 p.m.