Huskies to receive test in tough season opener

By Mark D. Morrey

The preseason officially ended Wednesday when NIU’s soccer team took off from O’Hare International Airport en route to St. Louis to open their regular season.

The Huskies will take on the St. Louis University Billikens tonight at 7:30.

The Billikens will prove to be just a bit more of a challenge than last weekend’s opponents. They made it to the NCAA’s Final Four last year before losing 3-2 in overtime to eventual national champ University of Virginia.

NIU coach Willy Roy feels that St. Louis had the best team in the country last season. The only reason they lost in the tournament is because of a clock malfunction.

They were winning at the end of regulation when the clock stopped working. The game should have been over but Virginia scored the tying goal and eventually won in overtime.

“They have something to defend,” said Roy about the Billikens, who also will be making their season debut. “They are ranked number two in the country.”

The Huskies are definitely the underdogs today as the Billikens hold a 9-0 lifetime record against NIU. They also play on astroturf while the Huskies play on grass, and perhaps more importantly, they have nine returning starters while Roy’s team has just five.

Playing a team of this caliber does not bother Roy. He has the philosophy that “If you want to be big, you have to think big.” He and his team are not going to back down.

However, he is more concerned with how his team plays than the finishing score since Roy still considers this the preseason.

Roy will use two lines of forwards to keep the defense guessing and fresh players in the game, which should not pose a problem since injuries are not a factor.

Roy is “not worried” about this game because “it is early in the season.”