Men’s soccer to play first game under new lights


Gael Rivera middle forward for Northern Illinois University kicks the ball away from a Notre Dame defender on August 12, 2012

By Jacob Onak

The men’s soccer team will take part in a piece of NIU history today, as it will play in the first game under the Soccer and Track and Field complex’s lights at 7 p.m. against Eastern Illinois.

The Huskies (3-9-0), have not played since Oct. 12 and have had plenty of time to rest up and refocus for the upcoming season.

Head coach Eric Luzzi said NIU worked on all facets of the game in the 10-day layover.

“We’re just working on kind of sharpening both sides of the ball,” Luzzi said. “Just trying to get a little sharper defensively, a little bit cleaner on the ball and obviously give the guys some rest and recovery.”

The Eastern Illinois Panthers (1-9-2) have not had a great season, taking just one victory from 12 games; however, this is not a team the Huskies will be able to walk over as they do have some attacking weapons. The Panthers have scored in each one of their games this year, scoring in double digits three times this season.

Eastern is led by redshirt sophomore Garet Christianson, who, despite playing in just seven games this season, is the top scorer with six goals and three assists for 15 points.

“They score a lot of their goals off set pieces,” Luzzi said. “… To be fair, they’ve scored four goals more than once, actually. … They are pretty good on set pieces, so we will have to be sharp there.”

Adding a big-time feel to the match will be the newly installed lights for the NIU Soccer and Track and Field complex. The men’s soccer team will be the first squad getting a crack at playing under the lights as the women’s team won’t be home until Friday.

“It’s a special night in the history of our program,” Luzzi said. “So the guys will be up for it. We practiced under the lights last night and it was pretty cool. We had a really good training session and the guys seem like they are in a pretty good place. It should be a fun night.”

This could be a game that sparks the NIU attack, as the Panthers have let up almost three goals per game this season.

Senior captain Sean Totsch said the Huskies have worked on improving the speed at which they attack.

“We’ve been working on some attacking things to try and clean up some of our set pieces,” Totsch said. “[Improving] deliveries on those and just trying to focus on…[joining] the attack quickly and try to counter a bit more.”