Sept. 17, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois men's soccer team (2-2-1) continues its challenging non-conference schedule this weekend at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic in Evanston as the Huskies will take on undefeated Lafayette (4-0-1) Friday at 5 p.m. before facing a 3-1 South Carolina team at noon on Sunday.
Already this season, first-year head coach Eric Luzzi's team has tied top-ranked North Carolina (1-1) and defeated 2008 NCAA Tournament team Oakland (1-0). That win came last Sunday in the final game of the NIU adidas Magnusson Inn & Suites Invitational.
Luzzi has been very pleased with the consistency his team has displayed through the early portion of its season.
"The biggest key is we are getting a good level of consistency," Luzzi said. "We are not having a lot of crazy highs or bad lows, and over the course of a weekend, and over the course of the season, that is what you want.
"This is another challenging weekend for our guys," he continued. "Lafayette is 4-0-1, hasn't lost a game this year and have only given up one goal. They have a very unique style and are not easy to play. They are committed to what they do, they work very hard and battle for every ball. If our guys bring the right mentality and have the attitude to battle for everything the entire game, we'll have a good performance. Then we turn around and face South Carolina on Sunday, and they are ranked in several polls."
With a veteran defense in front of a brand new goalkeeper in Jordan Godsey (Ocean Springs, Miss./Ocean Springs HS), Northern Illinois scored its first shutout of the year versus Oakland. The Huskies are surrendering just one goal per game, a number Luzzi would like to see drop even further.
"So far, the defense has come together pretty well," Luzzi said. "We've played five games against five really good teams and kept our goals against average to one. We're still working, but with freshmen in there and guys playing different positions than they are used to, we are doing well."
With a mixture of youth and experience in the game at any time, the Huskies have looked to senior centerback Josh Karsten
(Barrington Hills, Ill./Barrington HS) as the emotional leader of the team.
"Josh Karsten has been our leader in a lot of ways," Karsten said. "He's emotional, he brings energy, he is our flag bearer and a guy who is giving everything he has for the team. He is going to have to do his best this week and bring a lot of energy into the game."
Both matches this weekend will be played at Lakeside Field, where admission is $4. Huskie fans can follow the action on GameTracker on www.niuhuskies.com.
-- NIU --
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