History hasn’t been kind to NIU men’s soccer

By Andrew Hansen

Let’s take a trip down NIU’s memory lane, as the men’s soccer team goes into the MAC championships.

Well, actually it’s a lack of memories, and the lane mostly is filled with potholes.

Since NIU joined the MAC in 1997, it has passed the first round just once, making this season’s first-round bye all that much sweeter.

Our first stop on memory lane is 1997, and it features a new-face-in-the-conference Huskie men’s soccer team. This team showed its MAC inexperience and lost in the first round to Bowling Green. But it was the Huskies’ first year, right? They can only go up from here, right?

Well, not exactly.

The next year brought an improved conference record but the same postseason result: a loss to Buffalo in the first round. Must have been a sophomore slump.

But here’s the highlight of the trip: the 1999 season. A 12-9 Huskies team managed to get past the first round and ended up in the championship round only to lose to Kentucky. So the Huskies have finally arrived in the MAC and are going to continue the winning ways, right?

Well, once again, not exactly.

The 2000 season brought on more of the same as NIU lost in the first round to Kentucky.

The first round loss pattern continued through 2004.

2001: a first round loss to Akron.

2002: a first round loss to Marshall.

2003: a first round loss to Bowling Green.

2004: a first round loss to Buffalo.

Those are the potholes.

It’s not hard to see the MAC tournament hasn’t been very kind to the Huskies.

Our final stop on the trip is the 2005 season: a season of new hope.

There isn’t much to look at yet, but NIU has already made it past the first round for the first time since 1999, which seems like reason enough to celebrate.

But not yet; more is still to come.

NIU faces the winner of Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne and Buffalo in the semifinals on Friday, looking to head into the conference championship.

And maybe next year, when we take the trip down memory lane, the potholes will be filled with a new highlight: a MAC championship.