The Northern Illinois men’s soccer team will host Western Illinois in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament at 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17.
The Huskies received the Mid-American Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after winning the conference tournament this past weekend. NIU defeated Buffalo, 1-0, in the semifinals before knocking off Western Michigan, 1-0, on Sunday in the championship game.
“We are excited to host,” said NIU head coach Eric Luzzi. “Our guys enjoy playing at home and it will be good to not have to travel, it will be comfortable for our guys. Western (Illinois) is a good team; they won 13 games this year. I know coach (Eric) Johnson very well, he is an outstanding coach and he will have his guys ready. They have beaten some good teams; they have beaten Marquette and Western Michigan, and it should be a great college soccer game.”
This will be NIU’s third all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Huskies previously made the tournament in 1973 and 2006.
In their first appearance in 1973, NIU fell at SIU Edwardsville in its tournament opener, 3-0. During the 2006 tournament, NIU hosted Loyola (Ill.) in the first round, defeating the Ramblers 1-0 in overtime. In the second round, the Huskies lost 1-0 at Indiana.
The Huskies enter the NCAA Tournament with a record of 14-5-0, one win shy of the school record of 15 wins set in 2006.
Western Illinois has a 13-6-1 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament as champions of the Summit League Tournament. NIU holds a 23-7 advantage in the all-time series against Western Illinois, the Huskies won the last meeting, 1-0, on Oct. 7, 2007.
The winner of the first round game between the Huskies and Leathernecks will travel to meet second-seeded Creighton in the second round on Sunday, Nov. 20.
Tickets for Thursday’s first round contest are $10 for adults and $5 for youth and students.
For more information on NIU men’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.