Nov. 1, 2011
DEKALB, Ill. -- The Northern Illinois men's soccer team will play its final non-conference match of the season on Wednesday night when it travels to UW-Milwaukee. The Lewang Cup will be on the line when the Huskies and Panthers meet at 7 p.m. NIU has been in possession of the Lewang Cup since 2006, winning 5-1 in each of the past two seasons.
Following the Match Against UW-Milwaukee
Live stats are available through uwmpanthers.com. Live streaming video will also be available through the Horizon League Network.
The Panthers enter Wednesday night's match with a 5-9-2 overall record, 2-3-2 in the Horizon League. Last time out, UW-Milwaukee dropped a 2-0 decision at home against Loyola (Ill.). The Huskies and Panthers have three common opponents this season; both teams beat Western Michigan and Marquette, NIU defeated Valparaiso while UW-Milwaukee fell to the Crusaders. The leading scorer for the Panthers is Robert Refai, he has seven goals on the season. John Shakon has played 10 of the 16 matches in goal for Milwaukee; he has a 3-7 record and a 1.68 goals against average.
Luzzi on the UW-Milwaukee Match
"Milwaukee is in an interesting place. They are a very good team that has lost a few games that they probably shouldn't have and that makes them dangerous. I expect them to come out tomorrow and play freely with the (Lewang) Cup on the line."
Huskies in the Polls
With its three-game winning streak, NIU has climbed back near the top-25 in polls released this week. In the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) rankings, the Huskies garnered 18 votes, good for 32nd, while the Huskies are just one spot outside the top-25 in the Soccer Times poll this week, earning 28 votes for 26th position.
The MAC Race
Northern Illinois clinched a spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament with its win last Saturday at Bowling Green. The Huskies could be seeded anywhere from second to fourth at the conference tournament. Akron has clinched the regular season title in the MAC, along with the top-seed and the right to host the conference tournament.
The Defense Never Rests
Since a loss at Northwestern on Oct. 12, NIU has posted three consecutive shutouts and has not given up a goal in the last 273 minutes of play. Overall, the Huskies have nine shutouts on the season.
Youth Will Be Served
Led by five goals from sophomore James Stevenson (Falkirk, Scotland/St. Mungo's) and three goals each from sophomore Gael Rivera (Oslo, Norway/WANG Elite Sports Academy) and freshman Paul Hogan (Downers Grove, Ill./North), the NIU men's soccer team has seen its young players lead the way offensively. In total, 17 of the 22 goals scored by the Huskies this season have come from freshmen and sophomores.
All He Scores Are Game Winners
Senior Pat Sloan (Lisle, Ill./Benet Academy) registered NIU's first goal in a 3-0 victory over Bowling Green, his fourth goal of the season. Along with his game winning goals against Oakland, Michigan and Western Michigan earlier this season, all four of Sloan's markers have turned out to be game winners. Only one other Huskie, James Stevenson, has more than one game-winning goal this season, Stevenson has two.
The Scot Stays Hot
James Stevenson has vaulted into the team lead in scoring with three goals in the last three matches. Stevenson had a pair of goals in a 3-0 win over Western Michigan before grabbing the lone tally in a 1-0 victory against Florida Atlantic. The Falkirk, Scotland native added an assist last time out against Bowling Green. Stevenson has a team-high five goals and a team-best 12 points.
Double Digit Wins
With its 1-0 victory over Florida Atlantic, the NIU men's soccer team reached the 10-win mark for the sixth time in the last eight years, and the 15th time in school history. The Huskie record for wins in a season is 15, set in 2006 when NIU advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. Current head coach Eric Luzzi was an assistant coach with that 2006 club.
Hunting Goose Eggs
NIU ranks fourth in the nation in shutout percentage, holding its opponents scoreless in 60 percent of matches this season. Creighton leads the country, shutting out its foes in 76 percent of matches on the year. The rest of the top-five includes: Connecticut (72 percent), Monmouth (65 percent) and Lehigh (60 percent).
Godsey Among Nation's Best
Junior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey (Ocean Springs, Miss./Ocean Springs) ranks among the nation's best goalkeepers in goals against average. Godsey is currently 14th in the national rankings with a 0.647 GAA. Godsey posted his ninth shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over Bowling Green. Godsey also ranks in the top-25 in the nation, 23rd, in save percentage at 0.818.
Of its 22 goals scored this season, the Huskies have an even split with 10 goals in the first half of games and 10 in the second half. The other two NIU goals have come in overtime. Opponents of the Huskies have also scored in a balanced manner this season, with four goals in the first half, four in the second half and two in overtime.
Last Time Out
NIU won its third-straight game with a 3-0 victory over Bowling Green. Pat Sloan scored in the first half before Kenny Kranz and Jayson LeSeth added tallies in the second 45 minutes as NIU secured a spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Jordan Godsey posted his ninth shutout of the season in the win.
The Luzzi File
Northern Illinois head coach Eric Luzzi is in his third season as the head coach for the Huskies. Luzzi has a record of 30-18-3 at the helm of NIU. The Huskies' head man spent three seasons as an assistant at NIU before taking becoming the head coach. In his first season at NIU, Luzzi helped the program win the MAC Championship and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Kranz Makes Nine
Senior Kenny Kranz (Champaign, Ill./Centennial) scored his first career goal in a 3-0 victory over Bowling Green last Saturday. Kranz's first goal gave the Huskies nine different goal scorers on the season. In addition, 13 different NIU players have recorded at least one point.
All-Tournament Team at Northwestern
Francis Otira (London, England/Finchley Catholic) and Gael Rivera were named to the Northwestern Lakeside Classic All-Tournament team last weekend. Rivera scored both of NIU's goals in the tournament. For Otira, the accolade marked his third-straight all-tournament team honor.
Otira Claims Honors
On Sept. 12, Francis Otira earned both College Soccer News National Team of the Week and Mid-American Conference Player of the Week honors for his performance at the NIU/adidas Invitational. It marked the second consecutive week a Huskie claimed both awards.
Four Huskies Named to NIU/adidas All-Tournament Team
Francis Otira earned Most Valuable Player recognition and Jordan Godsey, sophomore Karim Darbaki (Faribualt, Minn./Shattuck St. Mary's) and freshman Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy) were named to the All-Tournament team at the NIU/adidas Invitational. Godsey recorded clean sheets in both games, Darbaki scored a pair of goals and Kannah registered a goal and an assist.
Sloan's Game Winners Earn Weekly Accolades
Pat Sloan was named the Mid-American Conference Player of the Week and was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week following his performance in the Michigan Invitational. Sloan netted the game-winning goal against both Oakland and Michigan to help the Huskies win the Michigan Invitational. The two goals were the first of Sloan's NIU career.
Four Huskies Earn All-Tournament Honors at Michigan
En route to winning the Michigan Invitational, four Huskies, Pat Sloan, Francis Otira and Brad Horton (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore), along with goalkeeper Jordan Godsey, were named to the Michigan Invitational All-Tournament Team.
NIU will close the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 5, when the Huskies travel to Hartwick for their final Mid-American Conference match of the season. Game time in Oneonta, N.Y., is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT.