Soccer team faces test in top-ranked Hoosiers

By Carl Ackerman

NIU’s soccer team enters tonight’s action against defending national champion Indiana with a 3-0-1 record and a No. 4 ranking in the Midwest.

“I think it’s great to play the defending national champions,” said coach Willy Roy, whose team is on the road for a 7 p.m. start. “It should be an exciting match because we’re eager to test ourselves against a very good team. I think we’ll have to play a very concentrated match, and it won’t hurt to have a few balls bounce our way. If we give it a 100 percent concentrated match, I think we’ll have a fine showing.”

The nationally top-ranked Hoosiers (2-1-1) are fresh from capturing the Met Life Classic title with a 1-0 win over Stanford University and 2-0 shutout of host University of San Francisco.

Indiana coach Jerry Yeagley, inducted into the United States Soccer Federation Hall of Fame this summer along with Roy, welcomes back six starters among 11 lettermen from the 1988 NCAA championship unit.

Last year the Huskies fell to the Hoosiers 2-1. Although NIU outplayed Indiana in the first half, the Hoosiers bounced back because of what Roy described as deep secondary talent. This year Roy is hoping for a much different outcome.

“(The Hoosiers) are very dangerous near the goal. Once they get to the 20-yard line, they know what to do,” said the third-year coach. “We must mix it up with them right in the open field.

“I think (goalie) Markus (Roy) has to come up with a couple of key saves, but then again he’s capable of doing that. I’m going to encourage Karsten (Roy), Willy (Roy Jr.), Frank Sparciano and Per (Ekholdt) to take as many shots as possible. We’re going to go after them, and they might be somewhat surprised.”

Markus Roy is currently ranked No. 5 in the Midwest with a 0.69 goals-against average. Willy Roy Jr. is the leader in point production (10) and is tied for first with four goals. Karsten Roy is tied for first in assists with eight, and Ekholdt and Sparciano are locked in eighth place with six assists apiece.

If there is one place where the Hoosiers are well structued, it would be in their scholarship program. According to coach Roy, Indiana’s budget is one of the highest in the country—at least three times that of NIU. Indiana has 11 scholarships, and NIU has seven.

“They have a facility that is second to none,” added Roy. “We’re in a situation where we don’t need 11 scholarships, but if we want to compete with (Indiana), we have to go up to nine.”

NIU has outshot its opponents this season 90-50 overall and 45-28 with shots on goal. The Huskies also have dominated in the goals-scored department with an 11-3 margin.