Akron was tabbed as the preseason favorite in the MAC, followed by West Virginia, NIU, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Western Michigan and Hartwick.
“In general we don’t put a lot of stock into preseason polls like this either way,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi.
“As you come to find out in our conference, every game is a battle. Top-to-bottom our conference is as strong it has ever been. We have one less team than we had last year (Florida Atlantic), and I think that will make everything that much tighter. It doesn’t matter where someone is listed in a preseason poll; we have to make sure that we show up for every game.”
Last season NIU finished with a 7-10-3 overall mark, 4-2-1 in league play, tied for second in the MAC with West Virginia. The Huskies advance to the conference tournament final for the second consecutive season, falling to regular season champion Akron, 2-0, in the championship game.
NIU returns 12 players from a season ago while welcoming 11 newcomers for the 2013 season. In exhibition play, the Huskies played to a scoreless draw against IUPUI (Aug. 17) before closing the preseason slate with a 2-0 win at UIC (Aug. 24).
Northern Illinois will open the 2013 regular season Friday, Aug. 30, when the Huskies meet Cincinnati at the Wolstein Classic in Columbus, Ohio. Game time against the Bearcats is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT. The Huskies will conclude the weekend against tournament host Ohio State at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.