Sept. 23, 2010
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois men's soccer team will look to carry the momentum of a Northwestern Lakeside Classic title into a night match with in-state rival Bradley, Friday at 7 p.m.
The Huskies have won three straight games by a combined score of 5-1, including wins over Holy Cross and Gonzaga that gave NIU its second championship at Northwestern's annual tournament in three years. Overall, NIU is 3-2-1, with its only losses coming to members of the Pacific-10 Conference.
"We have regained our identity as a team that finds a way to win," NIU head coach Eric Luzzi said. "That has been key to our recent success."
Bradley enters Friday's match with a 3-3-1 record, with losses to No. 9 SMU and Dartmouth in their last two matches, both of which came at home. Prior to those losses, the Braves beat Alabama A&M, 7-1, but fell to East Tennessee State, 2-1, at the PreHab Aces Soccer Classic in Evansville, Ill.
"Bradley is a always a good side," Luzzi said. "They have some fantastic individual talents, and they bring an a very hard working style to the game that will be a great challenge for our guys to meet."
The soccer rivalry between the schools dates back to 1968, when the Huskies beat Bradley by five goals as part of an 8-1 season. The teams have split their last three contests 1-1-1. Most recently, the Braves escaped DeKalb with a 2-1 win in the 2009 season-opener. Last time in Peoria, the teams played to a 0-0 draw that resulted in three yellow and two red cards.
"Anytime we play another Illinois team, there is added emotion," Luzzi said. "Our job is to channel that emotion into positive play on the field."
The Huskies follow their trip to Bradley with a visit to DePaul, Wednesday, Sept. 29. NIU returns home to open Mid-American Conference play against Hartwick, Saturday, Oct. 2.