Nov. 5, 2008
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois men's soccer teams completes the regular season with a trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan to face the Broncos of Western Michigan University, Thursday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m.
Northern Illinois is coming off a tough loss at the feet of No. 25 Duke, but is returning to Mid-American Conference play, where the Huskies haven't lost a game since early October. In league matches, NIU has gone 3-1-1 this season, with the only loss coming to Akron, currently the second-ranked team in the nation.
"We feel really good about what we need to do against Western Michigan," NIU head coach Steve Simmons said. "This is going to set the table for the MAC Tournament."
At 8-5-4, the Huskies are just two wins shy of reaching double-digit victories for the fourth time in five years. Northern Illinois can also clinch second place in the MAC for the fourth time in Simmons' six-year tenure with a win, Thursday.
If NIU wins, they will face the seventh seed, Bowling Green. The Huskies defeated the Falcons by one goal, Oct. 25.
The Broncos have gone 2-2 in conference play, with wins over Florida Atlantic and Bowling Green. After facing NIU, Western Michigan will face Hartwick in its final conference contest.
Simmons said despite its 3-12-1 overall record, WMU is a worthy opponent. He noted that the Broncos defeated Bowling Green by a three-goal margin.
"Things like that, on a statistical level, back-up the statement that anything can happen," Simmons said.
The Bronco offense has scored just 13 goals this year, the least in the MAC. WMU also ranks seventh in goals allowed, having given up 40, more than twice as many as NIU.
Saeed Salumana Baba paces the Broncos with three goals, while Sam Meyer leads the team with four assists. In goal, Western Michigan head coach Chris Karwoski has tried three keepers. Karwoski has selected AJ Reed, a sophomore from Strongville, Ohio, to start each of the last two matches.
While the statistics show NIU well ahead of the the Broncos, Simmons said Western Michigan has the Huskies' full attention.
"We're going into Western with the fullest respect, knowing that they're capable of winning some games," Simmons said.
Fans can track live stats from the game at www.wmubroncos.com. The live stats link is located toward the lower right corner of the page.