NIU men’s soccer team begins regular season with 2-1 victory


Erik Anderson | Northern Star Jayson LeSeth (12) runs the ball down the field.

By Brian Thomas

Battling St. Louis on the road in front of about 2,000-plus fans, the NIU men’s soccer team opened up its regular season with a 2-1 victory.

It was an intense environment for the Huskies (1-0-0) to handle, with Billiken fans being loud and intimidating, but NIU head men’s soccer coach Eric Luzzi said they managed the environment well.

“Once you’re out on the field, you have to be able to forget about everything else,” said NIU sophomore midfielder Gael Rivera. “You just have to block everything else out and concentrate on the game.”

Out of the gate, both teams came out with energy and excitement for the season opener.

The Huskies were the first team to settle down the pace and start playing their own game.

Rivera got the Huskies on the board first, scoring in the 35th minute on an assist from senior midfielder and forward Finn Jor.

NIU freshman forward Paul Hogan added a goal of his own soon after. He scored in the 41st minute off of a rebound to make the score 2-0 Huskies.

NIU went into the half up 2-0 and dominated the Billikens (0-1-0) in shots on goal, 8-1.

In the 57th minute, the Billikens cut the Huskies lead in half with a goal from freshman Raymond Lee to make the score 2-1.

“We allowed them to be the aggressors and get back into the game,” Luzzi said. “We always want to be the aggressors and set the pace, not the other team.”

Neither team scored again, and NIU junior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey came up with one of his two saves in the 89th minute.

The Huskies were very aggressive and put the pressure on St. Louis, outshooting the Billikens 15-7 for the game.

“We are a pretty good attacking team,” Rivera said. “We have to finish, but we will continue to work and get better throughout the year.”

While the Huskies were pleased with their season opener, they are already looking ahead to the University of Michigan Invitational, Sept. 2 to 4.

“This was a good win for us, and it’s great to start off 1-0,” Luzzi said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just one game, and we are already looking forward to our next game.”