A new-look Huskie side will take the field this season as 11 newcomers blend with 12 returnees to form this season’s 23-man roster.
“There is always an excitement around preseason,” said fifth-year NIU head coach Eric Luzzi.
“But there is a different kind of excitement this year because we have so many new guys. I’m looking forward to getting these guys integrated into our culture, into how we do things, and making them better student-athletes.”
One familiar face that the Huskies will have to replace this season is goalkeeper Jordan Godsey. A mainstay for the past four years between the sticks, Godsey finished his NIU career with 35 career shutouts, 13th-best in NCAA Division I history. A trio of goalkeepers will look to take over for the Huskies, led by senior Miles Herbert (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville), the Huskie No. 2 for the past three seasons, Oregon State transfer, redshirt sophomore Andrew Glaeser (Walla Walla, Wash./Oregon State) and freshman Mike Pavliga (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central).
Along the backline, returnees Sean Totsch (Oswego, Ill./Oswego), Charlie Oliver (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake South) and Dusty Page (Germantown, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) will help solidify the defense. After starting last season on the sidelines due to injury, Totsch appeared in 13 matches, making eight starts. Oliver played in all 20 matches a season ago, making 19 starts while scoring the overtime, game-winning goal against Northwestern. Page saw time in 11 matches last season, including 10 in a starting role.
In attack, all of NIU’s multi-goal scorers from a season ago, Gael Rivera (Oslo, Norway/WANG Elite Sports Academy), James Stevenson (Falkirk, Scotland/St. Mungo’s) and Isaac Kannah (Plymouth, Minn./Prairie Seeds Academy) return to the Huskie roster this season.
Rivera tallied four goals a season ago and led the team with nine points. Stevenson scored three goals last season and has netted 12 in his first three seasons as a Huskie while Kannah had a pair of goals last season, both were game-winners.
Other familiar faces, including junior midfielder Jayson LeSeth (Des Plaines, Ill./Maine West), who made 19 appearances and 18 starts last season, and junior forward Paul Hogan (Downers Grove, Ill./North), who appeared in 20 matches a season ago.
Tuesday also marked the release of the preseason National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Continental Tire top 25 poll.
The Huskies will face three teams ranked inside the top-20, traveling to No. 8 Akron (Oct. 26) and No. 19 Northwestern (Oct. 9), while facing 15th-ranked Saint Louis at Cincinnati’s Tournament (Sept. 8). NIU will also take on Fairleigh Dickinson, the first team outside the poll receiving votes, on Sept. 20 at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic in Evanston, Ill.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Huskies as they take the field for the first training session of the fall Wednesday and have just three days before taking on IUPUI to open the exhibition slate Saturday, Aug. 17. The preseason match with the Jaguars will take place at 4 p.m. at the NIU Soccer Complex.
Following the exhibition opener against IUPUI, the Huskies will have one more exhibition at UIC – Saturdauy, Aug. 24 – before opening the regular season Friday, Aug. 30, at Ohio State’s Wolstein Classic against Cincinnati.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.