NIU continues shutout streak

By Sean Connor

By registering its fifth and sixth straight shutouts over the weekend, the NIU men’s soccer team passed the 1994 squad that previously held the all-time record for consecutive shutouts.

On Friday, the Huskies (8-2-2 overall, 1-0 MAC) won at Bowling Green 3-0 to open MAC play. They returned home Sunday for a 0-0 double-overtime tie against Loyola University.

Ranked No. 4 in the Midwest, the Huskies haven’t allowed a goal since a Sept. 18 loss to Detroit-Mercy.

“To come in and play another game in less than 48 hours after playing a MAC road game while Loyola had the whole week off, you can really see the difference in energy in a game like today,” NIU coach Steve Simmons said.

BGSU (2-8-1, 0-1) was undefeated at home on the season, with one win coming against then No. 11 Ohio State.

Steve Goletz, NIU junior goalkeeper and last week’s MAC Men’s Scholar Athlete of the Week, recorded his eighth shutout of the season against BGSU.

“[Sophomore defender] Steve Algozino and Steve Goletz did real well,” Simmons said. “Obviously, that really helps when the team is scoring a lot.”

Midfielder Justin McGrane registered his second and third goals of the season at 33:56 and 64:20, respectively. The sophomore leads NIU with 10 points and four assists on the season.

Fellow sophomore defender Steve Algozino assisted on both goals, receiving help from junior midfielder Jose Alvarado on the first.

Algozino is tied for the team lead in assists with McGrane. Alvarado, who led the team with seven assists last season, has three.

Senior midfielder Paul Gabel capped off the scoring for the Huskies with an unassisted goal at the 72-minute mark. The score was Gabel’s first as a Huskie.

“The first MAC game is always emotional,” Simmons said. “They really stepped up and attacked. We hit a high on our road trip, but then we had to come home and produce again.”

Though the Huskies didn’t produce three goals Sunday, Loyola (4-4-2) was held scoreless for the first time this season.

Loyola also had seven days to prepare for NIU, having not played a game since a 3-2 overtime win over BGSU Oct. 2.

“This was one of those games where you just have to roll up the sleeves and ask the legs to move,” Simmons said. “One of the toughest things to do at the Division-I level is play a fresh team.”

NIU was without McGrane, who suffered an injury against BGSU after scoring twice. Simmons said he is hopeful McGrane will return for Friday’s game against Western Michigan.

“The reason we recruit and train hard is so that we can utilize our depth,” Simmons said. “We did a pretty good job coming off the Bowling Green game.”