Northern Illinois men’s soccer coach Eric Luzzi signed seven players to join the Huskies next year, including five U.S. Soccer Development Academy participants and four all-state honorees, he announced Friday.
“All seven of these guys fit the mold of what we want in our program,” Luzzi said. “They are winners, they will embrace the demands of our team culture, they are people of true character that will fit in with the personality of our team, and they are excited to be a part of Huskie soccer.”
The class includes three players from Illinois. Luzzi continues to build his program with the best talent the state has to offer, including the Chicago Sun-Times’ player of the year Paul Hogan, who currently attends Downers Grove North High School. Hogan scored 26 goals this year as a unanimous first-team all-state selection.
“Paul continues our track record of success bringing in the top players from the western suburbs (of Chicago),” Luzzi said. “He applied to NIU before we even contacted him, which just shows how he really wants to be a part of our program. We’re happy to say the feeling is mutual.”
Luzzi is also excited about midfielder/forward Isaac Kannah, an all-state honoree that captained Prairie Seed Academy to the Minnesota state championship last season.
“Isaac is possibly the best player to ever come into our program,” Luzzi said. “He has a special attacking personality and definitely has the potential to be a pro in the future.”
In addition to Hogan, Luzzi added Illinois products Jabari Danzy (Park Forest, Ill./Marian Catholic) and Hugo Gonzalez (Chicago/Conant). A member of the Chicago Fire Academy team, Danzy was an all-conference pick that scored eight goals for the Fire last year.
“Jabari is athletically very impressive, and will be a physical handful for our opponents to deal with,” Luzzi said. “He’s also a great kid that will run through a wall for our team.”
Gonzalez fills a hole at goalkeeper for NIU plays for Sockers FC Academy, proven fertile recruiting ground for the Huskies.
“I have known Hugo and worked with him for a number of years in the Olympic Developmental Program.” Luzzi said. “He is a very good shot stopper, and will add a lot to our very strong core of goalkeepers.”
A pair of defenders from the Badger state signed on the with Huskies. Dusty Page (Germantown, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) and Shawn Vroom (Kohler, Wis./Kohler). Luzzi calls Page “the next in a long line of big time defenders in our program.” The 6-foot-3 Page played for FC Milwaukee Academy and is the second-leading goal-scorer in Wisconsin history.
“Dustin’s intangibles are amazing – he has a 4.0 GPA, leadership potential, and is a winner in every way,” Luzzi said. “He is great in the air, hard as nails, and will be ready to compete for time immediately.”
Vroom plays next to Page for FC Milwaukee Academy.
“Shawn is a very intelligent player, who will improve a lot over his time at NIU,” Luzzi said. “His brother played division I soccer, and ended up earning all-region honors as a senior. I see Shawn having the same potential for success.”
Luzzi brought in only one player from outside the Midwest: midfielder Matt Fraedrich out of Burke, Va. (Lake Braddock Secondary).
“We identified Matt at our summer Elite Camp, and discovered he has athletic tools that not many other kids have,” Luzzi said. “He has grown immensely as a player over the last year. We feel that once he gets into our environment, he will have a very high ceiling.”
Overall Luzzi was pleased with his 2011 class: “This class addressed some specific needs for our team on and off the field, and will continue to help us compete with the top teams in the country. I credit our assistant coaches Scott Donnelly and Garrett Biller, without whom it would have been impossible putting together a group with this level of both talent and character.”
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.