Sept. 28, 2010
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois men's soccer team takes its four-match winning streak on the road, Wednesday, to face DePaul at 4 p.m.
NIU (4-2-1) hasn't lost since opening the year 0-2-1 against a trio of teams that already have a combined 14 wins.
That success can been heavily attributed to an NIU defense that has returned to its reputation for unrelenting thrift. Since letting in two scores in three minutes against Oregon State, Sept. 10, the Huskies have allowed only one goal. NIU ranks 11th nationally with only four goals allowed, and 12th in the country with four shutouts.
"We sorted some things out a couple of weeks back, and since we feel like we have really started to find our identity as a team," NIU head coach Luzzi said. "A big part of that identity is playing an unrelenting, persistent, hard-working brand of soccer that has come to be known as the NIU way."
The Blue Demons enter Wednesday's contest at 3-4-1 and are coming of a 5-0 loss at BIG EAST rival West Virginia. However, DePaul is 3-1-0 at home with wins over Drake, Loyola and Florida International.
"In addition to their success at home this year, DePaul is traditionally very difficult to play on their home field," Luzzi said. "We expect a great challenge from them Wednesday afternoon."
Senior forward Alex Mangan has accounted for four of the Blue Demons seven goals.
"Mangan is a player with a lot of experience," Luzzi said. "Senior leadership is extremely important, and DePaul has a standout leader and player with him."
For NIU, freshman James Stevenson has had the golden touch of late. The Falkirk, Scotland native tallied two goals against Bradley and netted the game-tying score against Holy Cross.
"James is really acclimating to the American college style of soccer," Luzzi said. "We knew it would take some time for him to adjust, but he has continued to work hard to learn our style of play and it is paying off."
Current Huskie All-Access subscribers can watch Wednesday's contest live, courtesy of DePaul Athletics.
The match is the last for Northern Illinois before opening up Mid-American Conference play at home against Hartwick, Oct. 2.