No love lost in NIU-EIU contest

By Hyun Moon

Eastern Illinois University has a jinx on the NIU soccer team.

That’s why the Huskies are glad to be playing the Panthers at the friendly confines of Huskie Soccer Field Sunday at 1 p.m. where they own a 19-2-3 record.

“There’s a lot of hatred spilled on the field whenever we play them,” forward John Lechner said.

It all started in 1989, when NIU coach Willy Roy had to pull his team off the field at Charleston because Eastern fans were throwing debris on his team with the match tied 1-1.

Last year, the Huskies suffered a 3-1 defeat to the claws of the Panthers at EIU after the Panthers scored three unanswered goals.

The bad feelings between Roy and EIU coach Cizo Mosnia grew when the Huskies competed at the Panther Classic at Charleston this September. Mosnia promised Roy he would not assign a referee that Roy did not trust to the Huskies’ match against No. 10 Southern Methodist University.

But that referee was assigned to NIU’s 2-0 loss. “Willy thinks I have something against him,” Mosnia said. “But I don’t.”

Roy, as a player-coach for the Chicago Sting in 1978, cut Mosnia from the Sting.

The Huskies want to make sure they break the latest bad omen in DeKalb.

“We have to come out just as strong and aggressive as they’re going to,” Lechner said. “We have to let them know that this is our home turf, and we’re going to defend it.”

Scoring first is a goal for the Huskies against the Panthers. NIU has given up an early goal in each of the last three matches. “We have to take it to them right away and score first,” said defender Dave Weichman, who replaced Dusty Showers at the stopperback position for the UIC match.

“Earlier in the season we were having trouble scoring goals,” goalie Markus Roy added. “Now, we’ve been giving up goals. We have to be concerned with working as a team.”

The Huskies scored an “ugly win” over Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday, when they had to score three goals in 11 minutes to overcome a 2-0 deficit.

“Every match has been a hard-fought battle for us,” Markus said, “and it’s not getting any easier.”

“For one reason or another,” Willy Roy said, “we always play badly on midweek matches. It’s been a pattern that has been developing.”

The Huskies are 4-0 on Wednesday matches this year, but the level of play has been low.

“I don’t know if it’s the classes, studying or the other things that go on during the week,” Roy said. “But we always play better on the weekends.”

The Huskies dodged a fatal bullet against UIC. “We dodged a big bullet,” Lechner said. “It would have put a serious damper on our season.”

However, the Huskies did play UIC shorthanded. NIU should be in full strength for the Eastern match. Jim Hall and Per Ekholdt should be cured from their colds, and Lechner said his groin pull shouldn’t affect his play. Also, Showers will be eligible for duty.

“We haven’t been playing the way we should,” Weichman said. “Beating Eastern will be the first step towards our recovery.”