Men’s soccer wants to prove Ohio State loss was a fluke

By Jacob Onak

It’s back to Ohio for the men’s soccer team — “as The Pretenders say, right?” said coach Eric Luzzi, referencing the band’s “My City Was Gone.”

Luzzi was talking about the Huskies’ upcoming games against Evansville and St. Louis in the Cincinnati Bearcat Classic.

On Friday, the Huskies take on the Evansville Purple Aces, a team that lost its first two games of the season.

Despite the early struggles, Luzzi predicts a very tactical game against the Purple Aces.

“Evansville, I think they are going to be very well organized defensively,” Luzzi said. “I think they are decent in attacking transition and I think they have some set pieces that are pretty good for them so we are going to have to be sharp in those moments.”

On Sunday, NIU will have the chance to show its stuff against the St. Louis Billikens.

The Billikens, who won their regular season opener, got a 2-0 win against MAC Powerhouse Akron in the preseason. St. Louis has been ranked the No. 7 top team in the nation by Soccer America, and the test it provides will give the Huskies a chance to show the nation what they can do after not taking advantage of their chances against Ohio State.

“I think we’re really motivated to make up for that loss,” said sophomore midfielder Bertrand Gaschot. “I think everyone is really frustrated about it, so we just want to prove we should have beaten Ohio [State] and we are going to be a top 25 team…[St. Louis] beat Akron so I think that will be a good chance to show how good we can be.”

Luzzi said the Billikens will be another strong test as they are a team without many weaknesses.

“St. Louis is just good,” Luzzi said. “There’s a reason why they are ranked top 10 in a couple polls around the country. They have some good attacking pieces [and] they don’t leave you a lot to exploit…they are solid across the board, all 11 guys.”

A player that NIU will have to be on the look out for will be sophomore midfielder David Graydon. Graydon was recently named to the’s National Team of the Week after his performance in the Billikens’ opener and his two assists in the game.

In the two previous games, NIU had a different goalkeeper start each game. Andrew Glaeser got a shutout in the opener against Cincinnati and earned all-tournament honors, while Miles Herbert, despite letting in two goals against Ohio State, did well to keep the Huskies in the game as NIU was pressed up, leaving a lot of room in behind the defense.

With two of the three goalies given time and the competition for the No. 1 spot still up for grabs, it seems like it would be time for freshman Mike Pavliga to be given a look, but Luzzi is still up in the air with his goalie conundrum.

“I have no idea,” Luzzi said. “…I thought both those guys [Glaeser and Herbert] did a good job on the weekend. Yeah, I’m not any closer to have a long-term decision.”