Men’s soccer eyeing repeat as MAC champions


Noah Silver

The NIU men’s soccer team poses with the Mid-American Conference regular season trophy after a 2-1 victory over Akron on Oct. 30, 2021. (Noah Silver | Northern Star)

DeKALB — The NIU men’s soccer team had a season to remember last season as they won the Mid-American Conference Championship for the first time since 2011 and qualified for the NCAA tournament.

“Last year was a magical run; none of us were thinking that we could possibly win the MAC,” fifth-year senior midfielder Adrian Corona said. “We kept getting better later on in the season which made us think that we are actually a good team and have a chance at winning the championship.”

After the season, the Huskies had two players, seniors Anthony and Nick Markanich, drafted into the MLS. Anthony was selected 27th overall by the Colorado Rapids, while Nick got selected 30th by FC Cincinnati.

“ It was a fantastic year and it was obviously a lot of fun winning the conference championship and qualifying for the tournament,” head coach Ryan Swan said. “ We had a great group of players and things came together for us and it was nice to see the project work together in my fifth year as coaching.”

New year, new talent, same expectations

NIU has gotten off to a rocky start as they are 3-3-3. Despite the record, the Huskies are looking to repeat as MAC champions, but objectives and expectations must be set first.

“Our goal this year is to defend the MAC and win the MAC and the goals come with hard work and having the mentality to take care of the smallest details,” Corona said.

NIU has a different team from last year, with the Markanich twins leaving as well as Pepe Martinez, Roque Viegas Jr. and Pierce Ugarte. They have added new players to their roster such as sophomore forward Taisei Arima and sophomore defender Cesar Cuellar via the transfer portal.

This year’s team consists of new talent and obstacles, and the Huskies are looking to build teammate chemistry and find a way to push through challenges.

“I think there is always pressure when you’re successful to maintain that standard that you once had,” Swan said. “But I believe there is always pressure in the mind and there should be pressure in the minds as defending champions to repeat.”

The path for another title

NIU has eight games remaining on its schedule until the MAC tournament starts. Seven of those eight games will be conference games.

The Huskies look to finish the season on a good record, respond to all the pressure, and reach their goal of repeating as champions.