Falcons host MAC tourney

The men’s soccer team is set to take on Northern Illinois today in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament. “At this point in the season you can throw all the records out the window,” Falcons coach Mel Mahler said.

The Falcons, who finished the regular season with a 10-6-1 overall record in the regular season, had a 2-3-1 record in the MAC. One of the Falcons’ two wins in the conference came over their first-round opponent, the Huskies.

The first meeting between these two teams was won by the Falcons, 2-1. The Falcons outlasted the Huskies in the victory and out shot them 13-10 in the win at Cochrane Field.

Despite the regular season win over the Huskies, Mahler is not going to allow his team to grow complacent.

“Northern Illinois is playing their best soccer right now,” Mahler said. “They’re playing very well and they have had the opportunity to see us, and we’ve seen them, so they can make some adjustments to our style of play. I anticipate it to be close, like all MAC tournament games are.”

The Falcons, who have been led primarily by their defense, will undoubtedly be looking to goal keeper Dave DeGraff to lead the team in the tournament. DeGraff finished the regular season with 117 saves and four shutouts.

“In the tournament you have to play great defense in order to win,” Mahler said. “That is going to be our focus, everything starts with our defense. If we can focus in our defensive areas I think we will do quite well. It all starts in the back with Dave DeGraff, we just need everyone to bring their ‘a’ game.”

Mahler also realizes the importance of the offense as well. “It’s going to be a total team effort. Everyone needs to focus on their job, and I think that is going to be the key,” Mahler said. “We need to be patient, because a lot can happen in a 90-minute game in the tournament.”

The Falcons, however, have something no one else in the tournament has — home field advantage. The Falcons are hosting the first two rounds of the tournament at their home field, which could be a big advantage for the team.

“It’s good to be home in the friendly confines of Cochrane Stadium,” said Mahler. “Being at home, guys get to sleep in their own beds and keep their regular routine, so I think it is very beneficial.”

The winner of today’s game, which starts at 3:00 p.m., will face the No. 1 seed in the tournament, Kentucky. The second round game is scheduled to take place on Sunday at 12:45 p.m.