Nov. 8, 2006
DeKalb, Ill.- NIU men's soccer has received honors after posting consecutive shutouts against Buffalo and Akron to capture the Mid-American Conference title last weekend.
The Huskies are ranked no. 26 by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, no. 19 by College Soccer News and third in the Great Lakes Top 10 behind Indiana and Notre Dame.
"It's nice to be ranked at the end of the year," said head coach Steve Simmons. "It usually means there's a good chance you're playing in the NCAA tournament."
Sophomore goalkeeper Joe Zimka was nominated to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week for the second time this season. Zimka had seven saves in the Huskies 3-0 win over Buffalo and recorded six saves including a stop of a penaltty kick in the first half of play in NIU's 1-0 win over Akron. Zimka also leads the nation in goals-against average (0.16).
"Joe has had a good year and is playing well at the moment," said Simmons. His penalty save against Akron was a big play that turned the momentum of the game and a good reason for his selection to the CSN National Team of the Week. The guys in front of him were once again committed to preserving the shutout."
The Huskies will host the 2006 NCAA first round contest against Loyola University Chicago. The match is set to kick-off at 1 p.m. CST on Saturday (Nov. 11) at Huskie Soccer Field
"Hosting a NCAA Men's Soccer match is a tribute to the regular season the players put together. As we are excited about playing in front of our home crowd, Loyola doesn't have too far to travel and they played a very good game here last season in a 0-0 draw. Coach Eitz has that program headed in the right direction and I expect it to be a very good college soccer game between two committed teams."
Northern Illinois enters the match at 14-5-1 and won the Mid-American Conference title by shutting out Akron 1-0 last Sunday in DeKalb, to earn its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1973. The Huskies are 8-0 at Huskie Soccer Field this year. Meanwhile, the Ramblers earned an automatic bid into the 48-team field after posting consecutive tournament shutouts as well in their first-ever Horizon League title on Sunday. Loyola is 11-7-2 overall on the season.
The winner advances to the second round to play Indiana, the tournament's seventh seed, at 7 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, November 15 in Bloomington, Ind.
(For further information, please contact Katie Hein at 815.753.9572)