Sept. 25, 2007
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois men's soccer will try to extend a three-match winning streak over Wisconsin, Wednesday, when it faces the Badgers in Madison.
In the Huskies last meeting with the Wisconsin (4-2-2), NIU forward Marcus McCarty (Fort Worth, Texas/Fossil Ridge) gave the Huskies a 1-0 overtime victory with a bicycle kick that found the net in the 93rd minute, securing Northern Illinois' third consecutive win over UW. Despite the recent success of NIU in the series, NIU head coach Steve Simmons expects a battle in Madison.
"They have a good program," he said. "It's difficult to play up there, but we're looking for to it. We love to play these games."
The Huskies (2-3-3) are coming off a trip to Corvallis, Ore., where they split a weekend series at the Zaher/Hensor Memorial Tournament. In game one, NIU bested Oregon State 1-0 on the strength of a Chris Rufa (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) header. The Huskies then fell 1-0 to Gonzaga in the tournament's championship match.
"We took a lot of positives from that trip to the west coast," Simmons said. "We've accumulated a lot of good experience this season, and learned a lot. We believe that will help us when we play at Wisconsin."
The experience of the Huskies will be well-tested against the Badgers, who boast wins over California, Stanford and Gonzaga. The victories are thanks in part to Wisconsin's leading scorer, Brian Bultman, who has scored on four of his nine total shots this season.
Rufa and McCarty have filled stat sheets for NIU, each with two goals, while midfielder Kyle Knotek (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) has impressed Simmons on the field.
"Kyle is the one guy that seems to be standing out," Simmons said. "His energy and ability to solve things defensively is a great asset to us."
Knotek has also factored in offensively, assisting on two of the Huskies' goals this season.
Simmons hopes for more top-notch play from Knotek, as well as the rest of his squad, as the Huskies try to win their fourth match in a row over the Badgers.