NIU Opens NCAA Tournament Thursday Against Western Illinois

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

Nov. 16, 2011

DEKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois men’s soccer team opens the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon when in hosts Western Illinois in the first round at the NIU Soccer Complex. Game time between the Huskies and Leathernecks is slated for 1 p.m., and the winner will advance to play at Creighton on Sunday.     

Following the Western Illinois match
Gametracker and live video will be available via NIUHuskies.com

About Western Illinois
Western Illinois has a 13-6-1 overall record and won the Summit League regular season and tournament championships. Nathan Bruinsma and Daniel Lewis each have five goals to lead the Leathernecks offensively. Andy Ryan has played 19 of 20 games in goal for Western Illinois and has a 0.88 goals against average and a .841 save percentage. Western Illinois was most recently in the NCAA Tournament in 2009, when it lost to Drake in the first round, 2-1.

Luzzi on Western Illinois
“We are excited to be a part of the tournament. This is the goal that you work year-round for and to have the opportunity to host a game is great for our program. We know that Western (Illinois) is good. Anytime you can do the double in your conference that is an accomplishment. They won the regular season and the conference tournament, so they did the double in the Summit League. They have been in the NCAA Tournament three or four times in the past, Coach Johnson is a very good coach and he will have they ready.

I think our guys are just going to have to do the things they have been doing. They have to commit to playing on both sides of the ball, play for each other, and I think it’s going to be a great college soccer game.”

Huskies Claim Second MAC Tournament Title
NIU won it second Mid-American Conference Tournament championship with a 1-0 victory over Western Michigan in the title game. Sean Totsch scored the lone goal in the 84th minute to give the Huskies the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. NIU’s previous MAC Tournament championship came in 2006.

All-Tournament Team
After defeating Western Michigan in the championship game and Buffalo in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, four Huskies were named to the All-Tournament Team. Gael Rivera, Francis Otira, Sean Totsch and Jordan Godsey were each named to the 11-man all-tournament squad.

NIU Makes Third NCAA Tournament Appearance
Northern Illinois will be making its third appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament, the Huskies previously made the field in 1973 and 2006. In their first appearance in 1973, NIU fell at SIU Edwardsville in its tournament opener, 3-0. During the 2006 tournament, NIU hosted Loyola (Ill.) in the first round, defeating the Ramblers 1-0 in overtime. In the second round, the Huskies lost 1-0 at Indiana.  

Five Huskies Earn All-MAC Honors
Just prior to the Mid-American Conference Tournament, the league office announced this season’s award winners. NIU had five players named to the all-conference team, the most for the school since 2006. Francis Otira, Jordan Godsey and James Stevenson were named to the All-MAC First Team while Karim Darbaki and Isaac Kannah were recognized as All-MAC Second Team performers.

Youth Will Be Served
Led by six goals from sophomore James Stevenson, four goals from sophomore Gael Rivera and three from freshman Paul Hogan, the NIU men's soccer team has seen its young players lead the way offensively. In total, 21 of the 26 goals scored by the Huskies this season have come from freshmen and sophomores.

Totsch is Clutch
Sean Totsch entered the final weekend of the regular season having never scored a collegiate goal. Now entering the NCAA Tournament, the Oswego, Ill., native has a pair of goals, scoring on each of the last two weekends. Totsch netted his first goal in the 2-1 regular season finale victory over Hartwick (Nov. 5), he then scored the biggest goal of the season in the 84th minute of the MAC Tournament Final, lifting NIU to a 1-0 win over Western Michigan.

All He Scores Are Game Winners
Senior Pat Sloan 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.

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 seventh in the nation in shutout percentage, holding its opponents scoreless in 58 percent of matches this season. Creighton leads the country, shutting out its foes in 80 percent of matches on the year. The rest of the top-10 includes: 2) Connecticut (68 percent), 3) St. Francis (PA) and Lehigh (61 percent), 5) Monmouth (60 percent), 6) Brown (59 percent), 7) NIU and Appalachian state (58 percent), 9) Lafayette (56 percent), 10) Valparaiso, New Mexico, Akron and Louisville (55 percent).

Godsey Among Nation's Best
Junior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey ranks among the nation's best goalkeepers in goals against average. Godsey is currently 12th in the national rankings with a 0.617 GAA. Godsey posted his 11th shutout of the season in the 1-0 MAC Championship win over Western Michigan. Godsey also ranks 20th in the nation in save percentage at 0.824.

Last Time Out
Sean Totsch scored in the 84th minute to give NIU the Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship over Western Michigan. Totsch’s winner secured NIU an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

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 33-19-3 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 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, Karim Darbaki and freshman Isaac Kannah 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, along with goalkeeper Jordan Godsey, were named to the Michigan Invitational All-Tournament Team.

-- NIU --