Soccer hits the road to DeKalb


File Photo

Drew Whalen midstride in a game on the exhibition field.

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

Western Illinois University looks to sneak into enemy territory and steal a win against Northern Illinois University on Wednesday night. The Leathernecks (1-3-1) will look to improve their win streak to two against the Huskies (3-2-0), who are coming off a strong win against Fort Wayne over the weekend.

This will be the second game of the Purple and Gold’s four game road trip, and their opponent looks manageable. The Huskies had a sub-par 2017 campaign posting a record of 3-11-1 and missing a playoff appearance. That statistic has not derailed NIU from taking this season head on as they already have three wins and are ranked second in the Mid-American Conference standings.

They are an attack heavy team leading the MAC in goals and assists with 10 and eight respectively. They look to feed their forwards often and plenty throughout the game. Leading the offensive front is freshman Nick Markanich. Leading the team in shots and goals, this new blood has proven he is a force to be reckoned with.

However, the Huskies have almost a 20-shot different from the nearest MAC team. The amount of chances they have created deserves more goals.

“It is nice (to have offensive balance) but I would still like to have someone have six (goals) at this point,” head coach Ryan Swan said. “We are creating a lot of chances, Anthony (Markanich) got his first tonight, and Nick (Markanich) has three goals, but you are looking for someone to consistently be a goal threat. It is nice that we have multiple guys, but I would like someone to get in the box and be a threat every time. But we will take the goals any way they come right now.”

While Markanich leads the team, he has been getting help from senior midfielder Kevin Rodriguez with two goals and four assists, and twin brother Anthony Markanich with one goal and two assists. The young core looks to stay strong after winning it’s home opener, and keep an undefeated record at home.

Meanwhile after winning their first game of the season, the Leathernecks are looking to ride that momentum into Dekalb against the Huskies.

“Northern Illinois has scored 10 goals in five games so we will have our work cut out for us on Wednesday,” Director of soccer Dr. Eric Johnson said. “If we can get the effort we had on Saturday we will give ourselves a chance to win on the road in DeKalb.”

Johnson has vocalized the importance of having a strong backline that will be a key factor into the final record for the leathernecks. That being said all eyes will be on senior defensive backs Jamison Kozar and Jacob Bjornsen.

These two players are the consistent starters and leaders in the backline, and the team will look to them for this tough road matchup. Along with that junior goalkeeper Tim Trilk will be looking help his team by more than just stopping the ball hitting the back of the net.

Trilk is known to be a vocal player on the pitch. As a keeper it is his job to communicate where the defenders need to be if a man is unmarked he must vocalize to his defensemen where that player is and how to position himself. He secured his first clean sheet last matchup against Dayton University, but will look for one more against NIU. Western looks to win one more on the road, as kickoff is at 7 p.m.