DeKALB — The season is starting to wind down for the men’s soccer team, and the Huskies will close their regular season on the road against two Mid-American Conference opponents. NIU is first tasked with a visit to Akron 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Zips were the 2018 MAC Tournament champions and are currently in first place in the conference with a 2-0-1 record. They also represented the MAC conference in the NCAA tournament, losing in the championship game against the University of Maryland.
Head Coach Ryan Swan said his team will face a tough opponent in the Zips, as the team has been one of the top programs in college soccer for the past couple of years.
The Huskies won Oct. 20, 2018 in their last matchup against the Zips. NIU hosted Akron and defeated the future 2018 Tournament champions, 2-1. Sophomore forward Nick Markanich scored a goal with two shots on target.
The Zips’ last conference match ended with a 3-0 shutout victory Friday against Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville. Junior forward David Egbo was active all game, scoring one goal and assisting on two.
NIU has yet to win a road game against Akron in 12 years of play. The Huskies are currently 0-10-1 against the Zips on the road. This season has proven to be shaky for NIU, as the Huskies are 3-5-0 on road.
The Huskies opened the scoring in their last two-road losses but have kept teams within one goal in four of five losses. Inconsistencies on the road have been tough, but Swan said the team has addressed them.
“It is always tougher on the road,” Swan said. “We made improvements in the last couple of games, hopefully [enough] to take the next couple of road games.”
Tuesday, the Zips lost 3-1 at Cleveland State, dropping their overall record 4-9-2. The Zips are a different team at home, capturing all four of their wins in Akron this season.
Coach Swan said Akron’s record is a reflection of the level of competition the Zips played at the beginning of the season. The Zips have faced Big 10 programs University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Akron came out on top in both games, as the games were played at home. Swan said the Zips are a better team now, as the Zips are undefeated in the MAC and have not lost at home since Sept. 28 in a 3-2 defeat against Cornell University.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium in Akron, Ohio.