#20 Northern Illinois Men's Soccer 2012 Preview

Northern Illinois Huskies

Overall Rank: #20
Conference Rank: #2 Mid-American Conference
Northern Illinois Men's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
Northern Illinois Team Page


Northern Illinois is returning to the pitch for the 2012 season after winning the 2011 MAC tournament crown last year. Head coach Eric Luzzi will not need to make many changes to the team since most of the 2011 roster is returning and Coach Luzzi will be taking advantage of this before heading into a tough 2012 schedule. Coach Luzzi did, however, make some coaching staff changes after Scott Donnelly took on the associate head coach position at Southern Illinois. Coach Luzzi promoted assistant coach Garrett Biller to the top assistant coach position and volunteer assistant coach Mike Boland was promoted as well. The coaching staff also welcomed on Nick Stirrett as a volunteer assistant coach. With the new coaching changes and the experienced players, NIU will be looking to make headlines this year gunning for a repeat of the MAC tournament title and a chance at the MAC regular season title.

2011 Record: 15-6-0, 4-2-0
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Eric Luzzi

The offense of the Huskies is loaded with talent. Returning to the pitch for 2012 are eight of the leading scorers for the team from last season including forward James Stevenson, who netted six goals for the Huskies. Alongside Stevenson will be midfielder Isaac Kannah, who led NIU last year with six assist and 40 shots. Stevenson and Kannah aren’t the only attackers that can make things happen for the Huskies. The offensive front is joined by Gael Rivera, Karim Darbaki, Jayson LeSeth, Sean Totsch, and Paul Hogan, who all logged minutes and goals last season. Another key player to the Huskies’ attacking offense is Pat Sloan, although a defender, he was able to contribute four goals and two assists for NIU in 2011. Alongside Sloan are defenders Dusty Page and Rocco Taglia. In the net for the Huskies again this season is Jordan Godsey. He allowed just 15 goals and tallied 60 saves last season and played a huge role for the Huskies defense.

Any team who plays NIU this season will be struggling to find a weakness amongst the offense and defense and with such a well-rehearsed team that has already put one MAC tournament championship under their belt, they will not let weaknesses show easily. Then add the talented freshmen class and it makes it even more difficult. What weaknesses lie with every team every year is as always adjusting players accordingly, especially the freshmen, but also to plan out each attack for each match. With NIU’s tough schedule this season, the Huskies will need to be precise. NIU will see Creighton for their first game of regular season play and the Huskies have a score to settle with them after Creighton knocked NIU out of the NCAA Tournament in 2011. Northern Illinois will also have to take on reining Big Ten champs Northwestern in a non-conference match. For their conference games they will have to be prepared as they take on big hitters West Virginia and Akron.

Final Projection:
The Northern Illinois Huskies are a contender for the 2012 season and will most likely finish in the top 25. Coach Luzzi and his squad will be excited come mid-August as they will get to showcase their talent in a pair of exhibition matches against Notre Dame and DePaul. These two pre-season previews are a good chance for coach Luzzi to evaluate his new talent in the freshmen, while polishing off the veteran players. As long as the Huskies offense continues to utilize all players across the line and the defense keeps holding off attackers, Northern Illinois will have no trouble making another NCAA appearance while threatening to bring home a MAC title.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament

Returning Leaders:
Goals: James Stevenson, Junior, F, 6
Assists: Isaac Kannah, Sophomore, MF/F, 6
Shots: Isaac Kannah, Sophomore, MF/F, 40
Saves: Jordan Godsey, Senior, GK, 60

Madness 2012 Men’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#78 Gabe Christianson