Men’s soccer to play last regular season game against the Bulls Friday

By Jacob Onak

NIU men’s soccer will take on the Buffalo Bulls in its last conference and regular season game Friday, in New York.

The Huskies (5-9-3, 3-2-1 MAC) are coming off of a disappointing 2-0 loss against Western Michigan. There are four teams currently tied and fighting for a spot in the MAC Conference Tournament with NIU, Western Michigan, West Virginia and Bowling Green all sporting a 3-2-1 MAC record.

Coach Eric Luzzi believes NIU and Buffalo have a close style of play (5-10-1, 3-3-0 MAC) this season.

“I think in some ways they are similar to us,” Luzzi said. “They are a team that have found themselves a bit in the last two weeks. They have gotten a couple good results so they will be a tough team for sure.”

Buffalo is on a three game conference win streak, most recently defeating Hartwick 1-0.

The Bulls are led by junior Richard Craven and senior Maksym Kowal who both have four goals on the season.

Huskies senior captain Mike Mascitti said despite the loss to Western Michigan the Huskies are excited to get a better result in the final regular season game

“Without a doubt we are disappointed,” Mascitti said. “I think the group will have a short memory about it and be excited and confident for the upcoming match to set things right and get back to the conference tournament.”

With this being a must win game for the Huskies, it is important that the team plays with a sense of urgency. They also need to be disciplined in their tackling decisions along with their defensive positioning.

Luzzi said the stakes of a MAC tournament spot presents the Huskies with an opportunity to end the regular season on a high note.

“It presents an interesting game,” Luzzi said. “To be honest there are five teams in our conference right now in the same exact boat. Some teams feel that as pressure other teams feel that as an opportunity, so I think it will be important for the guys to go into the game pleased at the fact that we are going into the last conference game of the season, with a chance to end up in second place.”

The Huskies will need to sure up their defense for their test against the Bulls. Mascitti said they will need to make sure they pay attention to their defensive marks.

“I think one thing [to improve] would be communication with the guys in front of us and just making sure they are marked up with the other teams attacking pieces, so we don’t have unmarked bodies in the box,” Mascitti said. “Also be more diligent about clearances and details, clearing the ball out and not playing around with it in the back too much.”