Sparacino making lasting impression

By Hyun Moon

Senior foward Frank Sparacino didn’t make a good first impression with NIU soccer coach Willy Roy, but he did make a lasting one.

Sparacino played high school soccer at Elk Grove Village High School which was a rival to Bensenville Fenton High School, where Roy’s sons Markus, Karsten and Willy Jr. attended.

“I didn’t like Franky very much then,” Roy Sr. said. “He was kicking my sons.”

Sparacino, who now rooms with Markus and Karsten, kicked the Roys around enough to catch the coach’s eyes and make the NIU soccer team.

“He was very feisty,” Roy Sr. recalled.

“We weren’t a soccer power at Elk Grove,” Sparacino said, “and neither was Fenton, but we had a pretty good rivalry.”

Together at NIU, Sparacino, Karsten and Markus made up one of the toughest defenses to score upon in the Midwest. But because of the scoring drought NIU suffered at the beginning of the year (two goals in three matches), Roy was eventually forced to move Sparacino to the forward line—a position Sparacino played in high school. Sparacino made his debut at forward in the sixth match of the season against Western Illinois where he scored his first goal of the year.

“Franky played his best soccer in the second half of the Western match,” Roy Sr. said. “He held the ball well, he was in control and he opened people up.”

Sparacino said he enjoyed playing defense and saving goals by clearing the ball. But with Dusty Showers as the muscle of the defense and Karsten the brains, there wasn’t much for Sparacino to do.

“I just stayed back and cleared the balls,” Sparacino said. “Actually, I was up in front quite a bit.”

However, Sparacino—who now has 10 goals and nine assists at NIU—always had defensive responsibilites. Now, he doesn’t. So, he has responded with two goals in the last two matches.

“Franky is a versatile player,” Roy Sr. said. “In modern soccer, you need to be able to play more than one position.”

Sparacino said he wants to help NIU finally get an NCAA bid. He said he believes this is NIU’s best chance despite winning 14 matches in 1989 and 13 matches in 1990.

“I’d be dissappointed if we don’t get a bid this year,” Sparacino said. “That’s what we seniors have been working towards all these years. The last two years people didn’t know who Northern Illinois was. Now, I think we’re finally getting some recognition.”