Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

19° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Valpo hands NU 14th loss

As last-gasp shots sailed high and wide of the goalposts Friday afternoon, the 0-14 Northwestern men’s soccer team knew it wouldn’t be their day. Again.

With stands filled to near-capacity on a clear day at Lakeside Field, the Wildcats fell 2-1 to Valparaiso (5-7). A late NU offensive surge wasn’t enough to overcome a lethargic first-half performance, and the Cats remained winless on the year.

“We didn’t come with the intensity we needed to have in the first half,” sophomore midfielder Paul Elkins said. “They were quicker, sharper and better than us. Our mental problems carried out onto the field.”

The Crusaders scored 22 minutes into the first half as Oliver Sanders placed a shot beyond the outstretched arms of retreating NU goalkeeper Chris Berlin. Sanders added another goal six minutes later, sending the Cats into the familiar come-from-behind mode.

Without injured senior midfielder Brandon Swalve to anchor the Cats on both sides of the ball, the team struggled to find its comfort zone, which was most evident during Valparaiso’s two scoring possessions.

“Our guys were switching men in the box,” NU assistant coach Michael Cornell said. “We know we shouldn’t do that and we paid for it twice. We’ve put in lots of effort on defense and when we have these lapses we can’t expect things to go our way.”

Worse still, Valparaiso had physically dominated NU in the first half. The rough play resulted in four yellow cards during the game and a number of one-on-one shoving matches and body slams, with the Crusaders getting the better of the battles early on.

After the second goal, NU coach Michael Kunert despondently placed his head in his arms. And the Cats felt much the same way going into halftime.

“Everyone realized that the situation couldn’t get much worse,” Elkins said. “We were losing to a mediocre team at home. If we didn’t go out with intensity in the second half I think it would have shown our team had no character.”

Apparently that was the sentiment of everyone else on the team, because the Cats didn’t even need an inspirational speech at halftime. They came out aggressive and turned the game around immediately with an offensive outpouring. Seven minutes into the half, Elkins took a rebound shot from senior midfielder Paul Van Huysen and finessed it into the right corner of the net for his first collegiate goal. Elkins ran along the sidelines and was mobbed by his teammates and the Cats seemed poised for a second half comeback.

“The goal woke everyone up,” Cornell said. “It showed that we were capable of finishing on opportunities.”

But for the rest of the half, NU was unable to convert. In a span of 10 minutes, senior forward Jun Kim hit a header that didn’t quite get by the Crusaders goalie, Van Huysen missed a point-blank chip shot over the crossbar and freshman forward Matt Miclea missed altogether on a header that would have gone untouched into the net.

The missed opportunities were nothing new for NU this season.

“It was frustrating to go through this again,” Elkins said. “We created the chances on offense but unfortunately we didn’t put more than one ball away.”

The Cats dominated possession in the second half and outshot the Crusaders 19-10 in the contest.

But after the game, NU players fell into their familiar melancholic state over another missed chance at its first win of the year.

“There was no reason we should have lost today, Elkins said. “We are never a favorite so we cannot come out lazy mentally. We just end up getting dominated physically.”

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Valpo hands NU 14th loss