The West Virginia University men’s soccer team heads to Northern Illinois on Sunday, April 11, for the second installment of a three-game road trip. Kickoff from the NIU Soccer and Track and Field Complex in DeKalb, Illinois, is set for 2 p.m. ET.
“Similar to our team, NIU has improved since we met at the beginning of the season,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “Now that we’re further along in the season, perhaps we didn’t appreciate how good of a win that was in just our second game of the year. I feel as though their results don’t reflect the quality of team that they have because they’re a very good team. This is another game where it is a must-win for both teams, with a ton to play for. Mentally, we’ll have to be very strong and very resilient for this matchup.”
The Mountaineers (5-3-0. 3-3-0 MAC) and Huskies (5-6-1, 4-4-0 MAC) meet for the 11th time in program history on Sunday, after WVU evened the all-time series, 4-4-2, earlier this season. Redshirt freshman defender Bjarne Thiesen’s 12th-minute penalty kick goal was the difference in WVU’s 1-0 win over NIU to open the home and conference slates on March 6.
Following Thiesen’s goal, the game became a defensive battle for West Virginia, as Tekesky and the Mountaineer back line fought off a strong NIU attack for much of the contest. Tekesky tallied four saves and his second clean sheet of the season, including the 16th of his career, against the Huskies.
In the Mountaineers’ last contest, the squad fell, 3-2, in a hard-fought, double overtime battle at No. 21 Akron, on April 7, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Akron, Ohio. In a back-and-forth contest throughout the nearly 110 minutes of play, the Zips found the back of the net in the 108th for the “Golden Goal” and ultimate victory.
A pair of Mountaineers scored against Akron, including sophomore midfielder Luke McCormick and redshirt sophomore defender Dyon Dromers. McCormick’s goal came in the 43rd minute to tie the game at 1-1 just before the half, while Dromers’ penalty kick at the 86-minute mark sent the game into overtime. Despite the loss, WVU held a 14-9 advantage in shots, while Tekesky recorded a pair of saves.
As of April 6’s conference stats, junior midfielder Ike Swiger is tied for fourth in the MAC with three goals this season, including a 0.43 goals per game average. Freshman Jesus De Vicente has tallied four assists on the year to sit tied for second in the conference, while Tekesky leads the league in shutouts (4) and shutouts per game (0.57).
Northern Illinois is led by fourth-year head coach Ryan Swan, who has put together a 23-36-4 overall record in his time with NIU. The Huskies enter Sunday’s match with a 5-6-1 record in 2021, including a 4-4 mark in conference play. The squad is coming off a 3-2, double overtime loss to SIU Edwardsville on April 7, after the Cougars found the back of the net in the 105th minute to secure the victory.
Nick Markanich leads the Huskies, as well as the Mid-American Conference, in goals (9), points (20), shots (45) and shots on goal (23). Four different players have recorded a trio of assists this season. Martin Sanchez leads the team in goal, recording 23 saves as NIU’s starting netminder through 12 matches.