Men’s soccer battling with season nearly over

By Krystal Ward

Men’s soccer (7-5-1, 1-1-1 MAC) is preparing for its match against MAC rival Western Michigan (8-3-4, 1-1-1 MAC).

Both teams are in a three-way tie with Buffalo for second place in the MAC West. The Broncos have won the last three contests against the Huskies.

WMU battled with Akron on Sept. 24, earning a 1-1 tie in double overtime and faced off against the University of Michigan Tuesday, tying the Wolverines 0-0. Head coach Eric Luzzi said he hopes the Broncos will “start to lose some of their energy.”

“This will be their third game in a week,” Luzzi said. “The other two they’ve played 40 extra minutes because they’ve both gone into double overtime, and they don’t seem to sub a ton.”

Western Michigan has played some of its best soccer this season. It has tied a school record with nine shutouts so far. Sophomore goalkeeper Drew Shepherd has allowed just two goals in nine games. The Huskies have averaged just over one goal a game this season.

The Broncos “have some athletic pieces,” Luzzi said. “They have a lot of seniors, so they’re a relatively mature group. Their front six players are pretty good. We’re going to have to be good in transition, and it’s probably going to come down to one or two special plays.”

Freshman midfielder Kevin Rodriguez, who scored the Huskies only goal Saturday against Buffalo, said the team has to score more against WMU.

“Hopefully we dominate more up top and we score more goals,” Rodriguez said.

NIU only has two more games left in the regular season. The first game against WMU will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex.