National Signing Day: Men’s soccer signs 7

By Steve Shonder

Men’s soccer added size with a seven-player class, which head coach Eric Luzzi unveiled Wednesday at the Convocation Center.

The Huskies’ recruiting class consists of six freshmen and one junior, Zach Downing, who officially joined the team at the beginning of the semester. Luzzi said the Huskies were looking to add another element to their game with this class.

“With this class we know that we needed to bring some height and some athleticism,” Luzzi said. “Over the last few years we’ve really gone out and gotten a lot of really, really good soccer players, but to be honest there were a couple games throughout the last year or two that we felt that we were physically overmatched. That was a huge priority for us with this class.”

With NIU two years removed from its last MAC tournament appearance, there are a lot of expectations on this class, particularly on the freshmen.

“We’re really, really pleased with these six guys, and I think they’re going to be perfect fits for our team,” Luzzi said. “They’re going to be exactly what we need to get us back to the place where we’re competing for trophies every year.”

Two of the Huskies’ new additions, Noe Ochoa and Nixon Urrutia, are products of the Houston Dynamo Academy, which is one of the top academies in the United States.

Luzzi said he also anticipates Noah Brodie, who played for Scott Gallagher Metro Academy, to be a key contributor for NIU early next season.

Even with the academy players headlining the class, there’s depth that can crack the starting 11.

“I don’t like to bring players in here that I don’t think can compete right away,” Luzzi said. “For us, I think it’s risky to bring in projects. … I like to get as many guys as we can that can push our current guys. … I expect all seven of these guys to be pushing all of our current players for time right away.”

Luzzi said he expects to add two or three more players before August.