NIU Opens MAC Tournament Friday



Nov. 10, 2011

DEKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois men’s soccer team goes in search of the program’s second Mid-American Conference Tournament championship when it opens this year’s MAC Tournament on Friday night, Nov. 11, against Buffalo at 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET) in the semifinals. The second-seeded Huskies will look to turn the tables on the third-seeded Bulls who won in DeKalb, 2-1, earlier this season in overtime.    

Friday, Nov. 11 (Semifinals)
No. 1 Akron vs. No. 4 Western Michigan, 4 p.m. CT (5 p.m. ET)
No. 2 Northern Illinois vs. No. 3 Buffalo, 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET)
Sunday, Nov. 13 (Final)
Semifinal Winners, 3 p.m. CT (4 p.m. ET)

Following the MAC Tournament
Live stats and video are available through Mid-American Conference Tournament Central.

About Buffalo
The Bulls enter the conference tournament with an 8-7-2 record, 3-2-1 in conference play. Andy Tiedt is the leading scorer for Buffalo with five goals and four assists. Jonathan Viscosi has appeared in 14 matches  in goal and has a 1.48 goals against average and a .781 save percentage. Buffalo is coming off a 1-1 draw against Hartwick last week.

The First Meeting
Northern Illinois held a 19-6 edge in shots but fell, 2-1, in overtime to Buffalo on Oct. 1 in DeKalb. Maksym Kowal opened the scoring for Buffalo in the 17th minute and sophomore James Stevenson (Falkirk, Scotland/St. Mungo’s) tied the contest in the 73rd minute. Lukas Fedler netted the game-winner for the Bulls in the 108th minute on just their second shot on goal of the match.

Luzzi on the Semifinal Against Buffalo
“We know that Buffalo will be good on set pieces, that is how they won the game last time and I am sure they have been working on that all week. So we are going to have to be sharp on those and we will have to be sharp with our soccer in the moments when we are able to play. A lot of things go out the window at conference tournament time, we know that we will have to work really hard, hopefully play some good soccer and be sharp on set pieces."

About Akron
Top-seeded, host Akron comes into the MAC Tournament with a 13-3-3 mark, 6-0 in conference play. Darren Mattocks leads the way offensively for the Zips with 18 goals and 39 points, Mattocks is third in the nation in goals scored. David Meves has appeared in 19 matches in goal for Akron and has a 0.63 goals against average and a .789 save percentage. In the earlier meeting this season in Akron (Oct. 8), the Zips defeated NIU, 2-0.

About Western Michigan
Western Michigan enters Friday’s semifinals with a record of 6-11-2, 2-2-2 in the Mid-American Conference. Kai Mendes has 14 points to lead the Broncos offense (four goals, six assists). Matt Murrell and Sean Lewis have split time in goal for Western Michigan, Murrell has appeared in 13 matches with a 1.46 goals against average and a .717 save percentage while Lewis has made 10 appearances with a 2.40 goals against and a .612 save percentage. NIU defeated Western Michigan, 3-0, on Oct. 19 in DeKalb.

MAC Tournament History
Northern Illinois won its lone MAC Tournament championship in 2006. The Huskies advanced to the final of the conference tournament in 1999 and 2008, falling to Kentucky and Akron, respectively. All-time, NIU has a 6-11-1 mark in the MAC Tournament; the lone tie resulted in a penalty kick loss to Marshall in the 2002 quarterfinals. NIU is returning to the tournament after missing out on last season’s event, the Huskies last match was a 1-0 double overtime loss to Akron in the semifinals in 2009.

Youth Will Be Served
Led by six goals from sophomore James Stevenson 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, 19 of the 24 goals scored by the Huskies this season have come from freshmen and sophomores.

The Scot Stays Hot
James Stevenson has vaulted into the team lead in scoring with four goals in the last matches 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 against Bowling Green and then found the back of the net in the regular season finale against Hartwick, scoring the game-winning goal. Stevenson has a team-high six goals and a team-best 14 points.

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 three.

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 15th in the nation in shutout percentage, holding its opponents scoreless in 53 percent of matches this season. Creighton leads the country, shutting out its foes in 78 percent of matches on the year.

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 headed into action this week. Godsey is currently 17th in the national rankings with a 0.687 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, 24th, in save percentage at 0.815.

Balanced Scoring
Of its 24 goals scored this season, the Huskies have nearly an even split with 10 goals in the first half of games and 12 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 five goals in the first half, five in the second half and two in overtime.

Last Time Out
Sophomores Sean Totsch (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) and James Stevenson each scored to propel the Northern Illinois men’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory at Hartwick in the regular season finale (Nov. 5). Totsch scored in the 53rd minute, Hartwick tied the match in the 64th minute and Stevenson put the Huskies back in front just 47 seconds after the Hartwick equalizer.

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 31-19-3 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.

Totsch Makes 10
Sean Totsch became the 10th different goal scorer for NIU this season when he tallied with a 35-yard rocket in the 53rd minute of the regular season finale against Hartwick. In addition, 14 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.



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