Men’s Soccer: Team keeps on rolling on the road

Jimmy Mitchell

There is very little No. 2 Northwestern hasn’t achieved during the 2008 season.

With the best start in the program’s history under their belts, the Wildcats (10-0-2, 3-0-0 Big Ten) checked another item off their to-do list Sunday, as they defeated Wisconsin 2-1 and earned their first true road win of the year. NU’s win in Madison, Wis., came after scoreless draws at both Lafayette and No. 9 Saint Louis earlier in the season.

“We’ve had two tough battles (on the road). We’ve had two draws in games we could have gotten wins in,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “There’s no such thing as a bad Division I win. There’s really no such thing as a bad Big Ten win, and there’s really really no such thing as a bad away Big Ten win.”

The Cats were dominant at the start Sunday, moving the ball into Wisconsin territory and creating myriad scoring opportunities. NU first capitalized 30 minutes into the first half when senior Brian Usinger stole the ball from a Badger defender and quickly fed it to sophomore Matt Eliason for the goal.

The Cats quickly doubled their lead less than four minutes later. Eliason received a pass from junior Carl Pett and fired another strike into the Wisconsin net.

Eliason’s second goal was his 11th of the season, tying Doug DeMartin of Michigan State for most in the Big Ten.

“Matt’s a natural goal scorer. He scored five goals in half a year last year as a freshman, which is unheard of,” Lenahan said. “You give him a chance around the box, he’s going to make you pay.”

The Badgers (5-5-2, 0-3-1) surged in the second half, forcing junior Misha Rosenthal to make two saves before putting a shot past the goalkeeper on a header from Wisconsin’s Scott Lorenz.

The goal was only the third Rosenthal and the NU defense have allowed all season.

“(Wisconsin) threw the kitchen sink at us in the second half,” Lenahan said. “(Rosenthal) was little bit out of sorts in the first half, but in the second half he was outstanding. He did a great job of really getting big in the goal and really came up big for us.”

With the lead cut to one, NU’s defense held the line and preserved the 2-1 score for the final 25 minutes. Rosenthal made two saves under the five-minute mark and finished the match with a season-high seven saves.

Following Sunday’s victory, the Cats have nine days before their next scheduled match. Five key games remain on NU’s regular season schedule.

“We’re going to recharge a little bit,” Lenahan said. “We have a very tough five-game stretch coming up here, but right now we’re going to enjoy this one a little bit and relax the next couple days before we start getting ready for the home stretch.”

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