Capable Cougars looking to stifle NIU kicking force

By Carl Ackerman

NIU soccer hosts Big Central Soccer Conference rival Southern Illinois-Edwardsville for a 1 p.m. match this Sunday at the Huskie Soccer Field.

The Huskies (5-1-1) are riding high after two straight shutouts over Quincy College and Illinois State, while SIU-E is carrying a four-game winning streak into tonight’s game against Bradley. The Cougars are 6-2 overall.

“They are capable of beating anybody just like we are,” said Huskie coach Willy Roy. “I think it will be a great game. They are a premiere team with lots of returning players. They are a balanced squad and we will match up well against them.”

SIU-E is a physical team and moves the ball exceptionally well. They also have a potent defense which has allowed 12 goals in eight games.

Cougar goalies Chris D’amico and Shawn O’Fallon have started four games each, which includes three shutouts. D’amico has started for the Cougars last three games.

NIU has an equally talented defense which has allowed a mere four goals in seven games. Goalie Markus Roy leads his team’s defense with a 0.52 goals against average.

Markus Roy was also named this week’s BCSC Defensive Player of the Week. He allowed just one goal – on a disputed play – in his last 300 minutes of acrobatic action.

“Of course it’s nice to be recognized, but I have to give credit to the team,” said goalie Roy. “Our defense is much more improved this year. I think there’s more effort from everyone everywhere on the field. It’s a lot of fun when you’re winning and playing well, so I’m just enjoying what we’re doing as a team.”

Winning and playing well is just what the Huskies are doing, but the Cougars have two top scorers that would like to change that chemistry.

Jim Nischbach leads the Cougars in scoring with five goals and one assist. He is followed by Steve Hausmann with three goals and one assist.

In order to stop the path of the Cougars, coach Roy feels his team must perform much better than they did against ISU on Wednesday.

“We better be better, otherwise it’s going to be a tough game Sunday. SIU-E is somewhat of a better team (than ISU). They are a little more aggressive and have a little better balance. I think they will be mentally prepared. They know that NIU will not be an easy match,” said Roy.

Last year the Cougars pounced on the Huskies 2-1 with the win coming on a penalty kick. Roy said the game was well balanced.

NIU has outscored and outshot its opponents this season 16-4 and 125-101, respectively. Willy Roy Jr., and Frank Sparacino are still tied for most goals (4), and Roy Jr., is on top with 11 points. Karsten Roy leads the squad in assists with four.