NIU's Steve Goletz nets MAC men's soccer Player of the Week honor



October 21, 2002


CLEVELAND, OH---Almost nothing eluded Northern Illinois University's Steve Goletz (Downers Grove / South) last week as the freshman goalkeeper led the Huskies to a pair of Mid-American Conference victories. That defensive prowess was recognized Monday (Oct. 21) when the Downers Grove native snared the MAC men's soccer Player of the Week honor, as announced by league commissioner Rick Chryst.

"I'm extremely happy for Steve. This is a big honor for him," NIU coach Willy Roy said. "He made some important saves this week, but he is also extremely good at catching the high ball and is communicating well with the defense to make us a better team."

Goletz recorded his first two collegiate victories---including his first shutout as a Huskie---to lead Northern Illinois to a perfect 2-0-0 week in MAC play last week. Goletz stopped four shots to lift Northern Illinois past the University at Buffalo 2-1 in overtime on Friday (Oct. 18), snapping NIU's six-match losing streak---the program's longest since 1986---and giving the Huskies their first conference win of the season.

The former All-State netminder came back two days later to stop eight shots for his initial whitewash as Northern Illinois edged MAC rival Western Michigan University, 1-0 on Sunday (Oct. 20). Goletz had six of those saves in the second half to preserve the one-goal margin created by fellow freshman Thomas Meiner's (Oslo, Norway / Wang Academy) first-half tally.

"The team has really rallied around Steve, and I give (senior goalkeeper-midfielder) Rasih Pala (Markham, Ontario) credit for tutoring him, as well. Rasih has really taken Steve under his wing, and Steve has shown he really wants to learn," Roy added. "This week, he showed what he is capable of, especially after what happened against (the University of) Akron (when Goletz allowed four goals in the first 25 minutes of a 4-2 loss on Oct. 13)."

Goletz was an Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association All-State selection last fall after posting a 1.10 goals-against-average and nine shutouts as a prep senior. His emergence allowed Roy to move Pala---a three-year starter in goal---into the midfield to help bolster the NIU attack.

The MAC's weekly award is the first for a Northern Illinois player since Dan Parisi earned the honor on Sept. 25, 2000 and NIU's fourth since joining the league in 1997.

Goletz lowered his season goals-against-average to 1.62 after posting a 0.47 GAA and .923 save percentage (12 saves in 183:20 of play) for the week. He has appeared in 11 matches this season, starting six.

The Huskies conclude the regular season this weekend, visiting Marshall University on Friday night (Oct. 25) for a 7 p.m. contest. NIU then moves on to Lexington, KY, for Sunday's (Oct. 27) 2 p.m. match at the University of Kentucky, the team's final match before the (Nov. 8-16) conference tournament.

--30-- -- Copy by Robert Hester