Men’s soccer finishes year without postseason

By Jacob Onak

With 11 new players coming into the season, the men’s soccer team knew it was in for a tough year, and tough it was.

The Huskies ended the year 4-13-1 overall and 0-5-1 in the MAC, missing out on the MAC tournament.

“I don’t think that our record reflects what we are all about,” said senior forward James Stevenson. “We’re a better team than that, and I think all season it’s just been the same of just … unfortunate-throughout games.”

Unfortunate they were, as the Huskies were involved in 12 games that were decided by just one goal, and they participated in overtime five times this season.

Defensively NIU struggled in 2013, allowing 29 goals this season. The issues at the back may have been due to lack of consistency in the starting back four. NIU used six combinations on the defensive end due to injuries and the emergence of new players.

Sean Totsch, Dusty Page, Shawn Vroom, Charlie Oliver, Cody Witkowski, Daegan DeBono and Richard Hall all saw time along the back four for the Huskies.

While the Huskies gave up so many goals, head coach Eric Luzzi believes it wasn’t a reflection on redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Glaeser, who was playing in his first year at NIU. Glaeser made 14 starts, appearing in 15 games for NIU, allowing a 1.39 goals against average and recording a 74.1 save percentage.

Offensively the Huskies scored 19 goals this season and were led by Isaac Kannah and Stevenson. Kannah recorded six goals and an assist on the year while Stevenson notched five goals and an assist in his final season.

Along with Gleaser, a number of new Huskies made an impact this season as NIU had eight freshmen and two transfers see some time on the field.

Juniors Andrew Palumbo and Sanel Hasanovic transferred into the program nicely with Palumbo seeing the better of the playtime between the two.

Of the freshmen, midfielder Adam Lightner and defenders Witkowski, Hall and DeBono all made a case for playing time in the final stretch of the season, but none more so than midfielder Derek Ott.

Luzzi said Ott’s determination in practice was the reason he saw time in the final matches of the season.

“He got his first start [against Buffalo], he was very good,” Luzzi said. “Obviously he’s undersized and there’s gonna be certain games and certain moments where it’s going to be difficult because there’s always the potential for him to be physically outmatched, but when we got the ball down and we’re playing he’s very good and he works his socks off. He cares a lot, so that was good to see him really grow. Particularly over the last 10 days to two weeks, he really started to feel comfortable and he’s done very well.”

The Huskies will say goodbye to seniors Totsch, Stevenson, midfielder Gael Rivera and goalkeeper Miles Herbert.

Totsch said though the season didn’t turn out as well as he liked, playing for NIU was about more than being on the field.

“Results [were] obviously disappointing,” Totsch said. “But we played well as a team, and I think things just didn’t come together and we were a bit unlucky. I had a good experience.

“The main reason I came to this school was because of the guys and the team and the atmosphere they had and the brotherhood that it was. I’m just glad to be a part of it for the last four years.”