Men's Soccer: Wildcats dominate rival Loyola Chicago to retain momentum
October 18, 2012
CHICAGO — The 31st meeting in the Loyola Chicago-Northwestern rivalry ended the same way as most of the first 30 matches — with a Wildcats victory.
No. 24 Northwestern (10-2-2), who until Wednesday had won only one of three matches away from home, outclassed an overmatched Ramblers squad (2-8-2) 2-0 in Chicago to win its 10th game of the season. With the win, the Cats improved their series record against the Ramblers to 20-4-7, including 10-0-2 under coach Tim Lenahan.
NU began the match strongly, dominating possession throughout the first half, out-shooting Loyola 11-0 and netting a goal on Joey Calistri’s 15th-minute, 8-yard chip to the top right corner of the net. Given NU’s shot advantage, Calistri noted, the Cats could have further opened the lead before halftime.
“We were very dynamic in our runs, and we created some good chances,” the freshman forward said. “But we were unable to put them away, and then we kept them in the game for a little.”
The Ramblers gamely resisted NU’s attack in the second half but ceded a 61st-minute score to senior midfielder Chris Ritter, assisted by Calistri, that doubled the Cats lead and closed the evening’s scoring. Despite what appeared a comfortable edge, especially given NU’s command of the game to that point, the Cats were not quite in the clear. When a wide-open Loyola Chicago header sailed just about the crossbar with four minutes to play, at least one onlooker felt as if his heart stopped.
“I’ve been around long enough to watch strange things in this game,” Lenahan said. “That’s why I have a knot in my stomach until the final whistle blows.”
When that whistle did sound, Lenahan had mixed thoughts on his team’s performance.
“Were we perfect?" Lenahan said. "No. We made some mistakes, gave the ball away here and there, but for the most part solid effort by our guys.”
With a 16-2 advantage over Loyola Chicago in shots and a 10-0 edge on corner kicks, NU’s lead on the stat sheet felt larger than its lead on the scoreboard. Lenahan said he worried that such dominance yielded only two goals and cited NU's blocked penalty kick in the second minute as a notable missed opportunity.
“We had control of the game in terms of technical ability. We need to bury a PK, finish a second goal, finish a third goal,” he said. “Even though we were in control of the game, that’s why coaches are cranky and angry on the sidelines.”
Ritter expressed a similar sentiment and proposed one way to brighten his coach’s spirits.
“We’ve got to finish more chances,” the senior said. “If we’d scored a third (goal) we’d have been able to relax a little more. Coaches would have been a little happier.”
On a night when it seemed only the Cats could stop themselves, Calistri insisted the team did not struggle with the persistent rain, which ranged from a mist to a downpour but rarely ceased.
“It’s not like we’re not used to (the conditions),” Calistri said. “That’s what our field’s like a lot of the time. Games this time of year are gonna be cold. It’s gonna be rainy, but we’ve gotta fight through it, persevere, find a way to get a result."