Valpo whitewashed by hot Huskies


All NIU’s men’s soccer head coach Willy Roy wanted was to finish the season on a winning note.

His wish was granted.

The Huskies (11-6-2, 4-2-2) finished their regular season Sunday with a 4-0 whitewash against a lowly Valparaiso squad. The win assured the Huskies a fourth place finish in the Mid-Continent Conference standings.

NIU shook off the bitter cold and fierce winds at Huskie Soccer Field to put together an impressive performance against a Valparaiso team (2-16-0, 0-7-0) that went winless in the Mid-Con this year.

Sunday was Senior Recognition Day for the team, and both midfielders Ian Osharow and Maitrii Aung-Thwin were honored for their contributions to Huskie soccer.

“I wish all the best to Ian and Maitrii,” said Roy. “They have been more important to our team’s growth and success than most people realize.”

NIU got on the board with 8:45 gone in the first half when Todd Vanecko passed to Nathan Mitchell. Mitchell let one fly from 17 yards out as he fell to the ground, putting the ball into the top left corner of the net to give the Huskies the 1-0 lead.6:00 into the half Brian Downs scored from 10 yards to the right to extend the Huskie lead. Sigurd Slaastad set up Downs with the pass and picked up the assist. NIU took the 2-0 lead into the second half of play.

The Huskies continued their scoring barrage as Rob Grabko tapped in a rejection from the Valpo goalie to pick up the unassisted goal and give NIU a 3-0 advantage with 20:17 left in the match.

One goal wasn’t enough for Grabko, who scored another unassisted goal from 27 yards left of center to give the Huskies a 4-0 lead. The Crusaders could not get on the board, and the Huskies cruised to victory.

The Crusaders got a little rowdy during the game, with Denny Wiebe, Steve Robertson, and Greg McClung each picking up a yellow card foul. NIU’s Michael DeFort also was whistled for a yellow card during the match.

Brian Hecht started in goal for the Huskies and picked up his third shutout of the season. Hecht realized exactly how dangerous being a goalie on a windy day was as the goal he was defending tipped over, missing his head by a couple of feet.

The defense, led by Brian Reinheimer, DeFort, and Aung-Thwin, was superb, not allowing the Crusaders to even take a shot at Hecht through the course of the match.

After the match, Roy gave certain players a pat on the back.

“I’m really happy for Grabko,” said Roy. “It was nice to see his hustle and desire.

“I’m glad we ended things on a winning note.”