Nation’s best welcomes NIU


It’s showtime!

The NIU men’s soccer team faces their toughest opponent this season Saturday at 7 p.m. when they take on the Bluejays of Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Creighton (16-0-0) is ranked as the No. 1 men’s soccer team in the nation.

The Huskies (10-5-2) are no strangers to playing and winning against the soccer “powerhouses,” as evidenced when NIU upset No. 9 Southern Methodist University on September 24. This is without a doubt one of the biggest games of the season for the Huskies.

“We’re all psyched for this game,” said defense man Brian Reinheimer. “The SMU game was a big game for us, but this one’s a lot bigger.”

The team isn’t the only one pumped up for the match. Head coach Willy Roy is also thrilled and grateful for a shot at the Bluejays.

“I’m excited, delighted and ignited,” Roy said. “This is a great honor and opportunity to represent everyone at NIU. I’d be a genius if we could play the number one team every year.”

Roy also feels the team is going into this match with the right attitude.

“They’re as loose as a goose,” Roy said. “We have nothing to lose, so we’re going to just play the game like we can.”

Creighton has two of the top seven scorers in the region in Keith DeFini and Lance Hill, who have 40 and 30 points respectively. DeFini, Creighton’s all-time leading scorer, has tallied 154 points in his college career. Brian Kamler also leads the Bluejays in assists with 11.

The Huskies, who are the No. 5 team in the Midwest Region, also have weapons to use against the Bluejays.

Offensively NIU counters with midfielder Brian Downs, who leads the Huskies with 7 goals, midfielder Sigurd Slaastad and forward Nathan Mitchell, who have each scored 6 goals a piece, and forward Andy Lane, who has scored four times. Michael DeFort and Brian Reinheimer lead the defense, while goalies Brad Nordeng and Brian Hecht guard the net.

Roy believes the secret to Creighton’s success this year is due in part to their style of play.

“They play more of an English style of soccer, and they like to use two big center-forwards up front,” Roy said.

The Huskies have fulfilled most of their goals this season, already winning ten games and finishing in the top half of the Mid-Continent Conference. But Roy knows there is more work to be done.

“We need to work a little bit on putting together a balanced attack,” said Roy.

Hopefully, the Huskies’ work will pay off at Creighton.