Oct. 23, 2009
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois men's soccer team will head back into conference action this Sunday when it travels to Boca Raton, Fla. to square off with Mid-American Conference foe Florida Atlantic at 12:30 p.m. (CDT).
The Huskies are coming off an energetic win, beating Milwaukee 5-1 in DeKalb last week. The victory kept the Lewang Cup in NIU's possession for the fourth straight year, and marked the first time five different Huskies scored in a game in over a decade. The last time five players struck the goal column in a game was Oct. 8, 1999 when NIU beat UW-Green Bay, also with a 5-1 mark.
NIU enters Sunday's match-up looking for its first conference road win this season. The Huskies hold a 7-6-1 overall record and hope to even their MAC tally at 2-2-0. NIU's first MAC victory was registered with a 1-0 win over Buffalo in DeKalb.
Florida Atlantic will be looking for its first MAC win after falling to a 0-3-0 mark in the conference. The Owls will host NIU after losing their last game 1-2 to conference rival Western Michigan at home.
"They are a good soccer team, and they are particularly difficult to play at home," NIU head coach Eric Luzzi said.
Florida Atlantic is one of two teams in the MAC that has yet to win a conference contest. The Owls rank last in the MAC in shots, assists, goals, and points. However, the team does boast a decent defense, ranking just behind NIU in goals against per game with a 1.25 mark. NIU ranks third in the conference with .77 goals per contest. The Owls have only given up 34 shots on goal compared the Huskies' 66.
Northern Illinois is focused on improving its 1-2-0 conference mark, as only the top four teams in the MAC make the conference tournament.
"Evening our conference record is crucial," Luzzi said. "Things in the conference are pretty well up for grabs right now. The most immediate, pressing thing is making the top four."
NIU will be lead by senior Luis De La Cerda and freshman Brad Horton who have each scored five goals this season. Both are tied for fifth place in the conference in goals scored. Looking for the pair will be a Huskie offense that has tallied 14 assists this season. Eleven players have notched an assist, with juniors Juan Hoyos and Engebreth Faerden, and Horton leading the team with two a piece.
After facing the Owls, Northern Illinois plays Wisconsin, Oct. 28, and Bowling Green, Oct. 31, both on the road. The Huskies finish the regular season at home, Nov. 4, against Western Michigan.
"All of the games that we have left are going to be difficult challenges for our guys," Luzzi said. "But for now, we're just focused on Florida Atlantic."