Coach questions the physical play of team

By Hyun Moon

Getting kicked and pushed around is no fun, but for a soccer player, it’s a way of life.

For the past three matches, NIU soccer coach Willy Roy has questioned the physical play of his team. He questioned the willingness of his players to “mix it up” on the field and win the 50-50 balls (a loose ball where both teams have an equal chance of gaining possession). The Huskies, 4-2-1, have won enough loose balls to win their matches, until they ran into the 11th-ranked Southern Methodist University on Sunday.

“The more 50-50 balls you win, the more you’re going to be in charge,” Roy said. “If you back away, it shows a negative attitude, we want to be positive.”

But you just can’t instantly make someone brave.

“Would you be brave going into a cage of three hungry wolves?” asked Roy.

So how can Roy turn his Huskies into “Raging Dawgs”?

“I wouldn’t ask them to do something they weren’t capable of,” Roy said.

For example, 5-3 121 pound Ian Osharow: “If we put him as a defender,” Roy said, “he’s afraid of making mistakes. But when we put him on the front line, he’s willing to take on guys three times his size. There are no differences on how the lines are painted on both sides.”

Defender Dusty Showers, who plays with reckless abandon, describes his style of play. “I think the guy that hits the hardest is the least likely to get hurt,” he said. “I tell the guys to go through the ball. If you go through with everything you got, even a guy twice your size is going to shy away.”

Senior forward John Lechner said everything boils down to how much the Huskies want to win.

“You’ve got to be willing to stick your leg in or your face … whatever it takes.”