DeKalb | Men’s soccer’s schedule won’t get any easier as it hits the road for its first of six away games in a row.
After coming off of a 2-1 win against Greenbay, the Huskies (2-4-0) will face off against the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights in the Northwestern Lakeside tournament on Friday.
The Knights (4-1-0), out of Kansas City, Kan., are coming off their first loss of the season, falling to Albany 2-1 on Sunday.
Before that loss, Fairleigh Dickinson had just taken care of Princeton 3-0 and was a team that was sniffing around the top 25 polls. Led by senior forward David Cornwell, the Knights are another tough matchup for the Huskies.
“To be honest, it’s another…very, very challenging weekend,” said head coach Eric Luzzi. “It’s unbelievable, as I look at a lot of other teams’ schedules that it seems a lot of other teams have had at least a couple of easy games so far, we haven’t had one…. We’ve had a very difficult schedule up to this point and this weekend is going to be no different.”
On Sunday, NIU will take on the St. Mary’s Gaels (2-2-1).
Defensively, the Gaels are strong, only allowing four goals in the five games they have played this season. This will test a Huskies offense that has been struggling to finish the chances it creates.
The Gaels also have a team that can beat others with more than one player. Five St. Mary’s players have a goal on the season, led by Carlo Eikani with two on the year.
The Huskies will look to tighten up both the offense and defense. Defensively, NIU will need to cut out the first-half goals it allows. In four of NIU’s six games this year it has allowed at least one goal in the first half of play.
Redshirt sophomore Andrew Glaeser, who seems to have won the starting spot as goalkeeper, believes the midfielders and the defense need to work together a bit more.
“I think we are really solid defensively,” Glaeser said. “If you look at the last couple games it’s just been one or two breakdowns that obviously we need to eliminate…If anything we need to get our partnerships right between maybe holding midfielder and the center backs and the outside mids and the outside backs. We just need to communicate a little more to sharpen up those areas.”
Luzzi believes his team needs to be more focused offensively.
“I think everybody on our team needs to be just a tiny bit sharper once we get into the last 40 yards,” Luzzi said. “Whether it’s an outside back, whether it’s a holding player, whether it’s one of our front four. We have had a lot of the ball. Clearly we are a very good soccer playing team, we dominate long stretches of games; [we] just need a little bit more end product.”
NIU must get used to the road as it won’t be back home until Oct. 22. On the road trip the Huskies will open conference play against West Virginia and then take on Bowling Green University.