By: Jill Wunrow (@JillWunrow)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Green Bay men's soccer team wraps up its three-game homestand Friday, Aug. 31 when it hosts Northern Illinois (0-1-0) at 6:00 p.m. at Aldo Santaga Stadium. Both teams enter the contest looking for a win after suffering tough losses against ranked opponents.
Green Bay suffered its first loss (0-1) of the season against Marquette (2-0-0) who entered the Aug. 26 contest ranked No. 33 in the country by TopDrawerSoccer.com and No. 34 by College Sports Madness. In its lone contest of the 2012 season, Aug. 24, NIU scored first but later fell 1-3 to No. 3 ranked Creighton.
After hosting the Huskies Friday to wrap up its longest homestand of the season, the Phoenix will kick off its longest road stretch of the season with a four game stint beginning at Niagara (1-0-1) Sunday, Sept. 2 at 12:00 p.m.
The Phoenix is being led by senior Whitney Browne (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) and junior Ahmad Bah (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) who have each taken three shots while Kirby Allen (Appleton, Wis.) owns Green Bay's lone goal.
SCOUTING NORTHERN ILLINOIS... The Huskies entered the 2012 season as the defending Mid-American Conference champions and a second round appearance in last season's NCAA College Cup, finishing with a 15-6-0 overall record. Northern Illinois returns eight starters from its championship squad under fourth year head coach Eric Luzzi.
Northern Illinois comes to Green Bay after opening its season with a 3-1 loss at No. 3 Creighton, the same team it fell to in the second round of last season's NCAA College Cup.
The Huskies are led by junior forward James Stevenson who was an All-Great Lakes Second Team and All-MAC First Team selection while senior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey who was a Third Team selection and All-MAC First Team selection. Junior Karim Darbaki is the strength of the Huskies midfield, entering the season as an All-MAC Second Team and NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region Third Team selection.
Stevenson scored NIU's lone goal in its loss at Creighton while Godsey made eight saves for the Huskies.
Friday's game will be the first meeting between Green Bay and NIU in seven seasons with the Huskies owning a 12-15-8 edge over the Phoenix. The two teams last met Sept. 21, 2005 in DeKalb, Ill.
SCOUTING NIAGARA... Sunday Green Bay will look to avenge its loss last season against Niagara as it travels to New York to battle the Purple Eagles at 12:00 p.m. It will be the third meeting between the two teams with the series even at 1-1-0. Last season Green Bay fell 0-2 to Niagara in the Green Bay Soccer Classic.
Sunday will be Niagara's home opener after defeating Duquesne 4-2 on the road in the Duquesne Invitational. Sophomore midfielder Jacob Ohlin, sophomore forward Callum Willmot and sophomore defender Michael Hanton combined for three first-half goals by the Purple Eagles. Sophomore defender Nick Anderson added a goal in the 4-2 win for Niagara.
Prior to its victory over host Duquesne, the Purple Eagles kicked off the invitational with a 1-1 tie against Pittsburgh.
Senior defender Rene De Zorzi was named Co-MVP of the invitation for his play in the back for Niagara.
ABOUT GREEN BAY HEAD COACH DAN POPIK...Green Bay first year head coach Dan Popik brings seven years of coaching experience on various levels in addition to six years of playing experience at the professional level. Rated among College Soccer News' Top-20 Assistant coaches in 2011, Popik spent the 2011 season as the associate head coach at Furman University, helping the Paladins to a 14-4-4 record and the program's first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Popik also served as the associate head coach and assistant coach at North Carolina State University (2005-10).
Popik's six years playing at the professional level included stints with the Columbus Crew (2006), Los Angeles Galaxy (2004-05) and Milwaukee Rampage (2000-03). Popik's wife Jodie hails from Menomonee Falls, Wis. and the couple has a four-year old son, Gavin.
FOLLOW THE ACTION LIVE... Fans can track live stats of Friday's game against Northern Illinois on GreenBayPhoenix.com or follow on Twitter here. A live video stream of Friday's game is also available on PhoenixFlix. Live stats of Green Bay's contest against Niagara can be tracked here.
POPIK'S TOPIKS... Be sure to check out Popik's Topiks with head coach Dan Popik every Wednesday on GreenBayPhoenix.com for the latest insights on Green Bay's upcoming opponents and recent contests. You can watch this week's episode of Popk's Topiks here.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE... Green Bay will continue its four-game road trip with the Dayton Tournament Friday, Sept. 7 when it battles the host Flyers at 6:30 p.m. The Phoenix concludes the tournament Sunday, Sept. 9 against Missouri State at 10:00 a.m. and wraps up its road trip Sept. 14 when it kicks off Horizon League play at Detroit.
For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.