Streak makes switch worthwhile

By Hyun Moon

Conference play has been very, very good to the NIU soccer team.

The Huskies, 6-2-1, have an eight-match winning streak in the Mid-Continent Conference since joining the league last year. After losing its inaugural match to Eastern Illinois University last year, NIU knocked off Illinois-Chicago and then Top-20 Akron to start the roll, and eventually captured the conference title.

The Huskies, who were picked by conference coaches to defend their title, have jumped out to a 2-0 Mid-Con record, downing Western Illinois 4-2 and Wisconsin-Green Bay 3-0.

“I think this is an up-and-coming conference,” senior Karsten Roy said. “We won some tough matches last year.”

NIU coach Willy Roy and other Mid-Con coaches are desperate to bring an automatic NCAA bid to the conference, but with Akron—a traditional power—defecting to the Mid-American Conference after this season, the bid seems further away.

“I don’t think Akron’s leaving will hurt,” NIU goalie Markus Roy said. “I know that Cleveland State, Eastern and Green Bay have gotten bids before. And we’re trying to get a bid this year. So that’ll be three or four schools who’ve gotten bids before.”

The Big Central Soccer Conference, which NIU departed from after capturing the title in 1989, now boasts three traditional powers: Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Quincy and new addition, Air Force.

“I think last year the Mid-Continent was a better Conference with NIU, Akron, Cleveland State and Eastern,” Karsten said. “We deserved an automatic bid last year. But this year Milwaukee is in the Top-20 and Quincy just beat Indiana. It varies from year to year.”

Youngstown State will replace Akron after this season. “Losing Akron hurts,” Karsten said, “but Wright State and Youngstown State have pretty good programs.”

The Huskies will take on Akron Friday at Huskie Soccer Field at 3 p.m. It will be their last confrontation as league-foes.

Last year, NIU edged Akron 1-0 in overtime in the Zips’ backyard.