Oct. 18, 2007
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois men's soccer team's race for the Mid-American Conference championship continues Saturday, when the Huskies host Buffalo at 1 p.m. on Huskie Soccer Field.
Northern Illinois currently sits tied for second place in the MAC with a 1-0-1 record, while the Bulls are in first with a 2-0-0 conference mark.
"They have eight total wins, and a big tie against (No. 14) Saint Louis, so they are a very good team," NIU head coach Steve Simmons said. "Matches against Buffalo are always hard fought, and we're going to count on the support of our fans to help us along against a tough opponent."
The MAC match against Buffalo will be the site of a Fan Tailgate Party. Students, who always receive free admission to soccer matches, will receive free hot dogs at halftime, and get to tailgate with the team after the game.
"We've had such tremendous support from our fans and our parents, who have started a tradition of tailgating after games," Simmons said. "We want to the students to come out and enjoy some free food, and what should be a competitive match."
Last season, the Bulls dealt the Huskies their only conference loss of the season with a 1-0 decision, that ended NIU's eight-match unbeaten streak. Two weeks later, Northern Illinois avenged the loss with a 3-0 win over Buffalo in the MAC Tournament.
While the loss to the Bulls blemished an otherwise perfect conference season, Simmons has his team focused on the present, not the past.
"We're just thinking about an important conference match at home," he said.
The Huskies' offense has been senior-driven, with nine of the team's 13 goals this season coming from players in their final year. Defensively, the team has found solid footing, recording three straight shutouts using two different goalkeepers.
Buffalo's Dan Bulley leads the MAC with five goals scored, while Bulls forward Dominic Oppong ranks second in the league with five assists.
Saturday's match with the Bulls marks the halfway point of the conference schedule. The Huskies still have matches to play at Hartwick (Oct. 28) and Bowling Green (Nov. 2) before the conference tournament begins Nov. 16.