DeKalb | Finally coming home, the men’s soccer team will look to grab a little revenge this weekend at the NIU Adidas Invite.
The Huskies (1-3-0) will face off against a strong side in Butler (3-0-1) on Friday, and then take on Green Bay (3-0-1), a team which beat NIU 2-1 in overtime last year, on Sunday.
Butler, which has gone undefeated and has a draw against Big Ten powerhouse Michigan State in preseason, is another chance for NIU to prove it can be a top team.
Head coach Eric Luzzi, who is hoping for a strong turnout from NIU’s home fans, is looking forward to another testing weekend.
“It’s gonna be another very difficult weekend,” Luzzi said. “Butler’s in and around the mix in some of the polls, top 25, they just beat a Louisville team that was top 10 in the country. They’re like every other team we play: They’ll be organized, they have some pretty good attacking pieces, they’ve scored quite a few goals this season so far. They’re just a good team.”
NIU will be without senior forward James Stevenson, who picked up a red card in the Huskies’ last match against St. Louis. Stevenson will be eligible to play once on Sunday against Green Bay.
Junior midfielder Jayson LeSeth, who has started all four games in the center of the midfield for NIU, said the Huskies will need to be better when it comes to defending.
“We’re definitely working on our individual defending,” LeSeth said. “As much as we like to defend as a group, still we are letting people off the hook individually, so that’s what we are working on so far.”
On Sunday, NIU will look to prove last year’s loss against Green Bay was a fluke.
LeSeth said the team specifically marked this game on its calendar.
“When we were setting goals in our meeting [at the beginning of the year], one of our exact points was to get revenge against Green Bay for losing that game last year when we definitely shouldn’t have,” LeSeth siad.
Green Bay and its high-powered offense will prove another tough test for NIU. The Phoenix are led by senior Sam Krenzien and redshirt senior Sabastian Xiong. Krenzien leads the team with four goals, two assists and 10 points in just four games, while Xiong follows closely with three goals of his own and six points overall.
Luzzi said Green Bay’s program has a solid team this year and can cause NIU some problems.
“To be fair, Green Bay is much improved from last year,” Luzzi said. “I know we lost to them last year, that was a weird day, but they are much improved. We’ve seen them a couple times and... it’s going to be a tough weekend.”