Huskies regroup for shutout

Despite the clear and sunny but cool conditions, and despite a 2-0 victory over Bradley University in Sunday’s non-conference match-up, NIU men’s soccer coach Willy Roy was still thinking back to Friday.

“We regrouped after our last mess. We played much better, but anything would have been an improvement over the way we finished that game (the 3-2 overtime Mid-Continent Conference loss to Illinois-Chicago),” Roy said flatly.

“In fairness, we had a good victory over a really good team. Bradley is a much-improved ballclub and they’ve got some nice wins to prove it. We should be feeling really pleased with this, but it’s hard to forget the one we let get away,” Roy said.

For the third straight match, the Huskies didn’t let the opportunity to score first get away from them.

NIU got on the board just 17:09 into the match as Nathan Mitchell helped Brian Blugden come through with a 12-yard shot that bounced over and past Bradley’s goalie.

In the second half, Blugden returned the favor as the freshman assisted on a Mitchell eight-yarder that was tucked just inside the right post. That goal came at the 67:36 mark, and despite an increased Bradley offensive attack, the Huskie defense and keeper Brad Nordeng registered the third shutout of the season.

NIU was playing without two year-long defensive starters in Michael Defort, who was serving the NCAA-required one-match suspension after receiving a red card expulsion against UIC, and Derek Niepomnik, who was sidelined by a left ankle sprain.

Roy was quick to praise Ken Hoffman, Brian Reinheimer and Ed Walenga for filling in, noting “they all stepped up and played hard.”

NIU returns to DeKalb for a two-match homestand, still searching for a league victory. Western Illinois comes to town Friday for a 4 p.m. match at Huskie Soccer Field. On Sunday, Eastern Illinois is the men’s opponent for a special Dedication Day Soccer Double Header.

In addition to President John La Tourette kicking out the ceremonial first ball, the refurbished Huskie Soccer Field will be officially dedicated with NIU taking on EIU in a SportsChannel Mid-Continent Conference Match of the Week.