Cats topple national powerhouse

Courtney McCarty

Brad North’s goal only six minutes into the first half was all the Northwestern men’s soccer team needed to leave defending national champion and conference-leading Indiana stunned and silent on the sidelines.

The Wildcats’ 1-0 upset of the No. 3 Hoosiers on Sunday puts them at 8-3-2 on the season and 1-1-1 in the Big Ten and serves as evidence the program is on an upswing after a dim history.

Notching its first regular-season Big Ten victory since 1999, NU earned its first win in 20 games versus Indiana (9-3-1, 4-1).

“We beat the No. 1 program in the history of college soccer and the defending national champions,” said coach Tim Lenahan, who picked up his 150th career win.”We’re still not at Indiana’s level, but at least for one day, we competed and were successful.”

The Cats silenced the Hoosiers’ fans and sent the Indiana players off their home field in defeat for the first time in exactly three years. NU snapped the Hoosiers’ 31-game home winning streak and their 50-game conference winning streak.

Surrounded by loud, singing teammates on the bus trip home, North said his teammates were ‘ecstatic’ and that his team played its best game of the season.

“This was probably the biggest game of our career so far,” said North, a junior. “It was unbelievable. It’s a great feeling to know we can play amongst the best teams in the country and we can beat them.”

The Cats’ offense, ranked 16th nationally, knew it had to apply quick pressure. On NU’s first shot of the game, North beat the Indiana goaltender on the short side after assists from Kevin Earnest and John Carlstedt.

“We went crazy, but we didn’t hold up,” North said. “We kept firing at them and outplayed them for the next 30 minutes.”

The Cats wouldn’t give Indiana’s conference-leading defense a break, and they notched six unanswered shots in as many minutes in the middle of the first half. For the rest of the game, Indiana “built its rhythm,” but the Cats still outplayed the the Hoosiers by blocking shots and making sliding plays, North said.

Indiana managed 11 shots in the second half, including a frenzy in the waning minutes, but NU goaltender Justin Pines held on for his second shutout of the season.

“We did everything we could to win this game,” North said. “They came back at us and we held them. Our whole team was playing unreal.”

NU is 2-0-1 in its last three games, including a 2-2 tie with conference foe and then-No. 9 Penn State last weekend.

“We’re playing the best soccer we’ve been playing and it’s not going to stop,” North said. “We’re on the way up.”

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