Aug. 29, 2007
EVANSTON, Ill. - Northern Illinois will open the 2007 men's soccer season at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic, Friday at 12:30 p.m. against Bucknell, and play game two of the tournament Sunday at noon versus Colgate.
Due to construction at Northwestern's new Lakeside Field facility, Friday's game has been moved to the Loyola Soccer Park in Chicago. Sunday's game will carry on as scheduled along the lakeside on the Northwestern campus.
The change in location doesn't change the high expectations for the upcoming season. Northern Illinois returns 19 letter winners and eight starters after winning the Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament championships and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
The Bison return 10 starters from a team that finish 9-8-6, won the Patriot League tournament championship and, like NIU, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to No. 4 Virginia.
Colgate, another Patriot League squad, set an 8-4-5 mark in 2006, with a 3-1-3 record in conference play. The Raiders return their leading scorer, Eric Anton, a senior from Tacoma, Wash. Colgate also brings back the Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year, David Cappuccio, who put up a shutout streak of 898 minutes and three seconds, the second-longest in NCAA history.
To take on the duo of Patriot League foes, the Huskies will look to the leadership of four returning all-MAC performers, including the conference's 2006 Newcomer of the Year Marcus McCarty (Fort Worth, Texas/Fossil Ridge).
Northern Illinois' defense, which led the nation with 14 shutouts last season, returns mostly intact and features the other three all-MAC performers. Chris Rufa (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) was a first-team member, while Steve Algozino (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln Way East) and goalkeeper Joe Zimka (Algonquin, Ill./Jacobs) both garnered second team accolades.
After the Lakeside Classic, NIU will face two ranked teams in Indiana and Notre Dame at the Mike Berticelli Invitational in South Bend, Ind. The Huskies return to DeKalb for their home-opener, Friday, September 14 at 4:30 p.m. against UMKC.