Men’s soccer looking for victory at weekend invitational


Gael Rivera (4) of NIU takes the ball down the field against Drake in a September game. Rivera scored NIU’s only goal in a draw game.

By Jacob Onak

After getting its first victory of the season against Iona, men’s soccer will try and take that momentum to the New Mexico TLC/Nike Invitational this weekend.

The Huskies’s (1-3-2) first game is against the Denver Pioneers. The Pioneers (3-1-2) are currently on a three-game win streak, so they, too, will be using their momentum as an advantage.

Pioneers senior striker Josh Wren has a team-high four goals this season and will be a handful for the NIU defense.

Coach Eric Luzzi knows his team will have to be on their toes to come away with a victory.

“They are a high-energy team and they work really hard,” Luzzi said. “They have some players who can play, too, so it will be an interesting experience.”

Senior defender Pat Sloan says the team’s mentality will not change going into the game.

“We are just trying to go in there, play our game and come out with a victory,” Sloan said.

NIU will play its second game of the weekend Sunday, as they face off against the New Mexico Lobos, who are currently ranked fifth in the nation.

The Lobos (5-1-0) are on a four-game win streak and will look to grab the victory with the help of freshman sensation Ben McKendry.

McKendry is a product of the Vancouver Whitecaps’s (MLS) youth system and has played for both the U-18 and U-20 Canadian national teams. He got his first goal for the Lobos last weekend in a game over Dartmouth; he got his first assist in the following game against UC Irvine.

Luzzi said he knows New Mexico, a team similar to Denver, will be a tough test for his guys.

“They are very combative,” Luzzi said. “They like to press high up the field and try to force other teams into making mistakes, so obviously a very good team.”