senior defender Dan Impellizzeri is considered one of the
best players in the GLVC by Norse head coach John Basalyga.
Mike Anderson, NKU Sports Information
Ky. - An NCAA Great Lakes Region championship in 2006 may be the
best finish in Northern Kentucky University men’s soccer history,
but losing that last game – a 2-1 setback against Lincoln
Memorial in the NCAA Division II national quarterfinals - still
The Norse are
hoping to avoid that fate in 2007 and ride their cohesion and experience
to another region championship, and perhaps all the way to a national
guys played a year ahead of themselves,” said fifth-year NKU
head coach John Basalyga. “Nine of this year’s seniors
were starting on this team as freshmen.”
They were a
highly honored group as well. Senior defenders Andy Bacon and Dan
Impellizzeri took home second team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference
honors. Forward Braden Bishop, NKU’s leading scorer with 12
goals and 27 points in 2006, was named to the All-Great Lakes Region
first team as well and tabbed the GLVC Freshman of the Year.
Ortman also earned first team All-Region honors. Midfielder Tony
Capurro, who had two goals in NKU’s 3-2 win over Southern
Illinois at Edwardsville for the regional championship, ended up
a second team All-American. And don’t forget Basalyga, who
was named Coach of the Year by the GLVC and the National Soccer
Coaches Association of America.
got everybody back from last year’s squad,” Basalyga
said. “It’s not like we’ll be sneaking up on anybody.
Everyone out there knows who we are and what we can do.”
And what the
Norse have always done well is play defense. Since Basalyga took
over the program in 2003, NKU has continued to rank among the best
in the nation in every defensive category. Last year, Ortman finished
in the top 10 nationally in save percentage (.833) and goals against
average (0.54). As a team, the Norse posted a 0.57 goals against
average, ranking fifth nationally. They finished eighth in the nation
after posting shutouts in 55 percent of their games.
has always been our strength,” Basalyga said. “I don’t
think there is a person out there who can beat Impellizzeri to the
along with Capurro and Bacon, will captain the Norse in 2007, providing
senior leadership and experience. “These are the guys, along
with our other seniors, Kyle Roberts and Andy Ortman and the rest,
that we’ve built this team around,” Basalyga said of
his leaders, “and we hope they’ll have their best seasons
Ray returns for his third year as a starter at NKU. Ray finished
with seven assists from his position on the left wing last
Thompson, who notched four game-winners in 2006, and Chad Cook,
who tallied three goals last year, and goalkeeper Jeremy Curington
round out the 2007 senior class, but not one of them is assured
of seeing the field. Not yet.
job is safe,” Basalyga said of the internal competition. “Our
guys have to stay fit, have to be ready to play every day. In a
conference like the GLVC, all it takes is one injury to go from
great to average.”
And so it goes
in the largest soccer conference in Division II. With a 13-game
league slate making way for just five non-conference contests, the
Norse will take on four regional opponents. West Virginia Wesleyan
and Truman State will come in for the fifth annual John Toebben
Classic presented by National City, while the Norse will travel
to Findlay and Tiffin. NKU will host Ashland in its final non-conference
game on Sept. 14.
When asked what
the toughest game on his schedule was, Basalyga simply replied,
“The first one. And then the second one. And then the third
one. And so on. When you play in a league with the likes of Quincy,
Lewis, Rockhurst, (Missouri-St. Louis), Wisconsin-Parkside and SIUE,
you can’t help but have a competitive schedule. And our guys
know that there isn’t a night off at all in our table.”
The tough GLVC
games begin early in the season. After playing their first four
games out-of-conference, the Norse will host Lewis and Wisconsin-Parkside
Sept. 7 and 9, respectively. A tough road win against Lewis proved
to be a turning point in the season for the Norse, while NKU faced
off with Parkside three times in 2006, going 2-0-1 in the matchups.
While many of
the Norse will be familiar with the old rivalries, there are some
new faces on the NKU roster as well. Twin brothers Michael and Matthew
Lavric, a talented duo from Gahanna, Ohio, will join the Norse.
Michael has the distinction of being the Ohio Player of the Year
as named by the NSCAA.
is 6-4, and Matt is 5-10, so I’m not sure how they’re
twins,” Basalyga laughed. “But they both come from a
great program up in the Columbus area, and we’re glad they’re
as a forward at Lincoln High School, where he was a lightning-quick
goal scorer. Michael served as the goalkeeper for the team, setting
an Ohio state record with 17 consecutive shutouts.
also joins the Norse from Dublin, Ireland. “He was the top
player on his club team when we saw him in Memphis. A lot of schools
here in the States were after him,” Basalyga said. Beattie
was described as being comparable to Tony Capurro, a hard-nosed
player who is always on the ball.
The final piece
of the puzzle was on the sideline, where Sam Miller will join the
Norse as an assistant coach. Miller was a standout defender at Cincinnati
and played professionally for the Cincinnati Kings of the United
also very familiar with Miller. When Basalyga was head coach at
Turpin High School, Miller would often be seen on the other side
of the field playing for rival Anderson.
Among the standout
returning underclassmen stands junior Tony Ray, who, along with
Impellizzeri, led the Norse with seven assists from his role on
the left wing, feeding the likes of Thompson and Bishop.
Alex Allison displayed an excellent two-way game last season and
looks to contribute again this season.
Among the NKU
defense, which allowed fewer than 80 shots on goal in 22 games last
season, juniors Eric Ashworth and Tom Shriner will challenge for
All the while,
the Norse will stand up to the giants of college soccer once again,
with the expectation to once again be the best..
HERE FOR 2007 SCHEDULE