NIU tops ranked St. Louis

By Sean Connor

The equivalent of the NIU football team beating Alabama came to fruition for the NIU men’s soccer team Saturday.

Coach Steve Simmons and the Huskies (5-2-1) No. 26 St. Louis 1-0. The Billikens came into the game ranked 26th in the nation by

In front of 1,413 fans, NIU beat St. Louis for the first time in school history.

“For everyone, especially our seniors, it was our biggest game ever,” junior goalkeeper Steve Goletz said. “Our team defense was phenomenal.”

The defense also provided the offense for the Huskies.

Off a free kick from junior Jose Alvarado, sophomore defenseman Steve Algozino headed in a goal from 14 yards 6:10 into the game.

SLU (2-4-1) outshot NIU 13-7 and had eight corner kicks to the Huskies’ two, but Goletz and the Huskie defense held strong their second straight shutout. The Downers Grove native registered six saves.

“When you play in a game like this, it raises everyone’s performance individually,” Goletz said.

The Billikens had seven days to prepare for NIU. The Huskies were coming off a 1-0 win Wednesday over Wisconsin-Green Bay after losing two in a row.

SLU coach Dan Donigan said he couldn’t begin to explain his disappointment.

The Billikens hadn’t played the type of soccer in their last two games that is supposed to honor the legacy of the program, Donigan said.

Simmons told his team before the game the opportunity presenting itself was a chance for NIU to get a true measurement of where they stood among the top teams in the country.

“For our guys this game was a tremendous example that showed what we can do when we’re committed and playing for what we work for,” the third-year coach said.

Although Simmons admitted SLU controlled the ball on offense for a majority of the game, he believed his team was in the driver’s seat.

“We played a dictating defense,” Simmons said. “We forced them to do what we wanted even when they had the ball. For us to be able to get this type of result in that kind of facility is amazing. It will be an unforgettable experience for the players and the few NIU fans that could make it.”

But as Goletz said, NIU has to turn around and do it again on Wednesday at the University of Wisconsin. The Huskies beat Wisconsin 1-0 at home last season.