In the early 2004 season, the one constant for the NKU men’s soccer team has been the swarming team defense.
The team didn’t allow a goal in the first four games and has a 4-0-1 record. The only blemish came in their season opener when they tied Saginaw Valley State 0-0.
NKU coach John Basalyga credits the defense for the fast start. “We have been extremely consistent on defense, especially in the back line.”
The back line is anchored by senior goalie Nate Madden, who posted four shutouts early in the season.
“Our defense is playing pretty good right now. We just have to continue to work together and play tough,” Madden said.
Basalyga has been very impressed with Madden’s play so far this season. “Nate is our most experienced player on the team. He’s doing a tremendous job of leading the team on defense.”
The team is playing with 14 freshmen on the roster, and as many as seven freshmen have been on the field at one time this season.
“I don’t think the freshmen really know what’s going on yet and what they are accomplishing. They are just going out there and playing hard,” Basalyga said.
The freshmen that have contributed heavily to victories are Andy Bacon, Jason Larkin and Chris Berberich.
The team has a good mixture of young players and veteran players who will contribute to the team’s success. On the defensive side of the ball, junior David Lies returns as a two year starter while junior Randy Walters and sophomore Tony Cullum return as midfielders with college experience.
Lies knows the upcoming Great Lakes Valley Conference will test the youth of this team. “We have to beat the teams that we are supposed to and try and sneak out wins against teams who are nationally ranked.”
“At the beginning of the year we wanted to win more games than last season; now we are playing for the best possible seed in the tournament,” said Lies.
“We have to continue to fight on defense and start scoring goals. That will come with game experience for our young players,” Madden said.
“We just have to find a consistent offensive flow right now. We also have to continue to be consistent on defense,” Basalyga said.