Head coach Eric Luzzi and the Northern Illinois men’s soccer team are not going to shy away from the down year they dealt with last season.
After a lackluster 4-13-1 season, which included three separate 4-game losing streaks, the Huskies are looking to bounce back. NIU will be returning most of last season’s team, including leading-scorer Isaac Kannah, number one goalie Andrew Glaeser and top assist man Jayson LeSeth.
“I am not going to hide from anything that we did last year,” Luzzi said. “We underachieved and it is not the kind of season that we would ever expect to have within our program.”
NIU worked throughout last spring and during this preseason to make sure they turn this season into a successful one. And, that looks hopeful as the Huskies went 2-0-1 in their three preseason games.
“I think [this season] looks promising,” Glaeser said. “We came together as a team over the last couple of weeks, we had a couple of good games in the preseason, and we are looking to put it all together in a real game.”
After just three full days of training, the Huskies played to a 0-0 stalemate against Western Illinois. Coach Luzzi said that the team looked comfortable on the ball. The next two games were nice wins for the squad.
First was a 2-1 victory over IUPUI. Goals from Kannah and senior Andrew Palumbo paced NIU in a lightening-shortened game. The final contest of the preseason was a 4-0 rout over DePauw. Kannah and Palumbo scored in consecutive games, while Dusty Page and Alex Saliba also knocked in goals.
“To be honest, we pretty much dominated all three games – statistically and in terms of ball possession,” said Luzzi.
Six goals and two clean sheets, even in preseason, will help build the confidence around the squad. LeSeth said that the team struggled to close out games last season. These preseason games showed that could change.
“Last year, we struggled to finish off teams and get the results that we wanted,” LeSeth said. “But, I think that is something that we worked on in the spring, and honestly this preseason, we have shown that we can get results.”
The Huskies open upt their season today in Evanston for the Northwestern Lakeside Classic. NIU will play two games, the first being today against Hofstra at 4:30 p.m. and the second being against Quinnipiac on Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
“It will be good games. They will give us a test and hopefully, we come out on top,” Glaeser said.