Men’s soccer ready for new era

By Mateo Avila

DeKalb — A new season for the men’s soccer team kicks off with the Cardinal and Black scrimmage 5 p.m. Aug. 12 followed by an exhibition 3 p.m. Aug. 15 against the Loyola University Ramblers.

The Huskies hired new head coach Ryan Swan Jan. 23 to replace Eric Luzzi. Swan spent the last eight seasons coaching Drury University’s men’s soccer team accumulating a 106-47-8 record and making four appearances to the NCAA division II tournament.

Sean T. Frazier, associate vice president and director of athletics, said he saw something unique with Swan and think’s he’ll be a good fit to a program that needs to get back on track.

“[Swan just stuck out,” said Frazier, according to a Jan. 26 Northern Star article. “He brings great experience as a head coach and also has alot of energy and passion for the position.“

Returning players

The Huskies will have a very similar looking roster to last season’s with 18 of the 20 players returning. Junior midfielder Max Voss, who led the Huskies in goals and points last season will be back as well as senior goalkeeper Drew Donnally, who started in 14 of the 16 games played last season.

Senior midfielder Jerome Roche, senior defenseman Luke Read and Sophomore midfielder Christian Molina will all look to make key contributions to NIU as they will all also be returning.

Roche and Read started in all 16 games for the Huskies last season and were the leading minute getters for NIU with 1528 and 1537 minutes, respectively.

Molina led the Huskies in shots last season with 27 and shots on goal with 10.

Junior midfielder Kevin Rodriguez is another player to keep an eye on this season. Rodriguez scored two goals and three assists last season in 945 minutes, finishing with five points.

What they lost

The Huskies lost five seniors from last season’s team in Daegan DeBono, Richard Hall, Albert Levett, Adam Lightner and Cody Witkowski. The five played a total of 227 matches with 151 starts.

Perhaps the player that will be most missed in Hall. Hall registered one goal, two assists and four points while starting in all 16 games played last season. Hall also had the highest shot percentage of any Huskie last season at 25 percent. Hall anchored a good defense last season and will be tough shoes to fill.

Adjusting to Swan

After a difficult end to the tenure of Eric Luzzi, the Huskies moved on and brought in Swan to be the new head coach.

The Huskies went 2-10-4 overall and 1-3-1 in conference play last season, but Swan believes new times are ahead after struggling in previous years.

“This team has gone through great success and has faced recent challenges, there’s a potential for us to be something special,” said Swan, according to a Jan. 26 Northern Star article.

The Huskies have not been over .500 since 2011 where they finished with a 15-6 overall record and 4-2 in conference. Swan hopes to reverse the current trend.

Who to Watch

Max Voss: Voss led the Huskies with three goals and six total points last season as well as shots on goal percentage at 57.1 percent.

He was also very aggressive going for goal as his 14 shots and eight shots on goals were second most for NIU trailing only Molina.

Expect Voss to continue to be aggressive and continue to lead the huskies in most offensive categories.