Men’s soccer wins NIU Adidas Invitational

By Brian Thomas

No. 20 ranked NIU men’s soccer continued its strong start to the season by winning its NIU Adidas Invitational for the first time in program history.

The Huskies (5-0-0) beat Valparaiso in their home opener on Friday 1-0 and also beat Portland on Sunday 4-0 to remain undefeated.

Eric Luzzi, NIU head men’s soccer coach, was happy to finally win the tournament.

“We have never won this tournament before,” Luzzi said. “We made it our goal as a team to win this tournament and I was pleased we did what we had to do to win.”

NIU was able to pull out the victory against the Crusaders thanks to freshman Isaac Kannah’s late goal in the 85th minute of the game.

The Huskies offense came alive in their game against Portland, as sophomore Karim Darbaki scored two first half goals which were both assisted by freshman Jayson LeSeth to put the Huskies up 2-0 at the half.

NIU freshman Paul Hogan scored his third goal of the year in the 65th minute of the match on an assist from Kannah.

With two minutes remaining in the game, NIU sophomore Houston Hoffman added the fourth goal of the day on an assist from freshman Johnny Tyma.

The Huskies offense has shown signs of improvement compared to last season.

“We are a very strong attacking team,” Darbaki said. “We don’t have just one attacker, all six of us are attacking and we never stop.”

NIU’s defense and goalkeeper Jordan Godsey helped record two shut outs over the weekend.

“The difference-maker for us on defense is Francis Otira,” Luzzi said. “He is the best player at his position that I have ever coached. He is on a whole different level when it comes to communication and organization. He always has great energy. Him just being out there takes the pressure off of everyone else.”

The Huskies are off to a good start this season, but don’t want to get too ahead of themselves.

“We need to take everything one game at a time,” Luzzi said. “We need to continue to stay focused and give solid performances every game.”