Matt Pritchard is a ‘pest’ for other team

By Jacob Onak

Men’s soccer’s Matt Pritchard is a player that loves to be a pest for opposing teams.

“I just try to be annoying to the defense, kind of a gnat,” Pritchard, a freshman, said. “Pressing as much as I can and just, you know, working as hard as I can at all times.”

A player with great athletic ability, Pritchard fits right into coach Eric Luzzi’s high-intensity team.

“He’s a worker,” Luzzi said. “He fits in very well to the style that we want to play. High-energy, high-intensity and he makes it hard on the team’s back four to build and to play out of the back.“

From Omaha, Nebraska, Pritchard was a member of the Omaha FC Elite soccer club, leading them to five state cup trophies.

Pritchard said he is trying to improve and is focused on being a quicker player on the ball.

“[The coaches] have gotten me to play a lot of one, two touch,” Pritchard said. “I used to not be able to do that but they do a good job at training us to play quick and find the open man and attack quickly. So I try and find the first possible option going forward.”

Playing with fellow attackers James Stevenson and Isaac Kannah has taken pressure off Pritchard.

“You know James and Isaac are both phenomenal strikers, so it’s easy to find them,” Pritchard said. “They are always open. They always check in the right spots so they make my job easier.”

Pritchard has had two assists this season, which means he is tied for the team-high with Stevenson. He was given his first start in the Huskies’s first win against Iona, an experience that still brings a smile to Pritchard’s face.

“It’s pretty amazing. I wasn’t really expecting it,” Pritchard said. “Right before the game, [Luzzi] pulled me aside and let me know. I was kind of in awe and kind of shocked, and just tried to go out there and do the best I possibly could for the team.”

It was Pritchard’s experiences on his campus and team visits that really made his decision to come and play for NIU.

“When I came on my visit and official visit, there was this sort of sense of family,” Pritchard said. “The coaches were all great guys and it just made the choice an easy option. All of the older guys have pretty much welcomed the freshman pretty well and it’s just a big sense of family in the team.”