Huskies prepare for MAC first-place Western Michigan in last home game of regular season


Northern Star File Photo

Huskies celebrate after a goal Oct. 8 during an eventual 5-1 win against Eastern Illinois University at Soccer and Track and Field Complex.

By Quentin Wilson

DeKALB — Men’s soccer is bringing a different meaning to Friday night lights. The Huskies will be under the lights Friday when they face Western Michigan University for NIU’s 113th Homecoming Week and the last home game of the regular season.

After defeating the 2018 regular season Mid-American Conference champions, West Virginia University, 4-2, NIU Head Coach Ryan Swan said the team was excited to be home and felt confident about a good game. Swan said his team wants to keep its season going as long as possible.

The Huskies are in fourth place in MAC standings with a 1-1 record. Western Michigan is tied for second place with a 1-0-1 record.

The Broncos have been a tough opponent for NIU, as WMU has won the last seven of eight games, including three straight. The last time the two teams met was Nov. 6 in the MAC tournament quarter final which ended with a 3-1 lost for the Huskies.

Senior forward Jan Maertins scored the only goal for NIU, while putting up two shots on target. Junior midfielder Alex Welch posted two shots as well but failed to find the back of the net.

NIU’s last win against the Broncos came in 2011 when the Huskies won the MAC Tournament Nov. 13 in a tight 1-0 victory.

Although Swan was unaware of the MAC championship game, he said he knows WMU has a good team this season.

“They are a very organized and disciplined team,” Swan said. “[WMU] does not give away opportunities, and they often punish mistakes.”

The Broncos are a high-scoring team, as they have scored more than three goals in a game six times this season. WMU has gone 5-1 and has yet to lose since its Sept. 28 loss against University of Illinois – Chicago. Swan said the Huskies cannot allow space for the Broncos to operate.

WMU sophomore forward Eric Conerty and first-year midfielder Charlie Sharpe are two players Swan described as very good and opportunistic. Conerty has two goals in conference, while Sharpe has one goal and one assist in the MAC.

The Huskies have only one clean sheet at home this season, which came in a 1-0 victory Sept. 24 against University of Wisconsin – Green Bay.

Beside the 5-0 loss Oct. 5 against Saint Mary’s College – California and a 2-1 loss Oct. 12 to Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, NIU has not allowed more than one goal per game at the Soccer and Track and Field Complex.

Swan said he hopes for a big crowd to celebrate Homecoming and to send the team off in its last home game.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at the NIU Soccer and Track and Field Complex.