NIU has one of best ‘futbol’ teams in nation

By Jarrod Rice

I’m going to go out on a limb and say something most NIU students don’t know yet: NIU has one of the best football teams in the country.

Wait a second, that was a typo. It should say that NIU has one of the best “futbol” teams in the country. Yes, we’re talking about soccer here.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, we can talk about what’s been NIU’s best-kept secret.

As NIU’s other, more renowned football team has found out this season, winning starts with defense. And to say the NIU men’s soccer team’s defense has shut down the opposition this season would be an understatement.

The Huskies are 8-2-2 this season and have an unheard of .64 goals-against average. Full-time goalkeeper Steve Goletz’s is even better at .39.

After missing time with a concussion early in the season, Goletz has returned to the Huskies in full force.

Goletz has led the Huskies to six straight shutouts and has made teams forget what it’s like to score goals since Sept. 18. The Huskies have yet to lose with Goletz in net and he has allowed just four shots past him in 924 minutes.

But it hasn’t just been the lockdown defense that has been putting NIU soccer on the map.

Teams also need some sort of offense to win games. They need a leader who can take his game to the next level in crunch time.

The Huskies have found their leader.

His name is Chris VanDuerm and it’s not his team-leading four goals on the season that stands out. It’s when those goals come that makes him truly special.

All four of the junior midfielder’s goals have been game-winners. Many players would like to have that many game-winners in a career.

VanDuerm has been clutch this season, but he’s not all the Huskies have.

With eight players scoring at least one goal this season, the Huskies have the depth to make it through the long season.

Perhaps the biggest test of the grueling schedule will come Oct. 21.

That’s the day the Huskies face conference foe Akron, which just so happens to be the No. 2-ranked team in the country, on Zip turf.

The Zips score more goals than any other team in the country – but don’t expect the Huskies to back down.

The Huskies will have to grind it out on defense, and if they can edge out the No. 2 Zips, it could be one of the team’s biggest wins in years.

Here’s a thought: Maybe if the Huskies lent their defense to our other football team, that first sentence I wrote wouldn’t have a typo at all. But if you’re one of the 125 fans who actually go to home games, you already knew that.