Men’s Soccer: Rest and recovery for goalie

Jimmy Mitchell

As the regular season ends and gives way to the Big Ten tournament, Northwestern finds itself without one of its top stars, who helped propel the Wildcats to the best record in the conference.

Goalkeeper Misha Rosenthal, whose 11 shutouts in 2008 led the Big Ten, is not expected to play Thursday. He will watch from the sidelines today as No. 12 NU (12-3-2, 3-3-0 Big Ten) takes on Penn State (5-10-3, 2-4-0) at 10:30 a.m. to kick off the tournament in Madison, Wis.

Rosenthal needs rest to recover from an undisclosed injury to his knee, which has plagued him in the past, NU coach Tim Lenahan said.

“We’re anticipating that, for us, there is life to play after this week, no matter what,” Lenahan said. “We’re not going to rush him back. But we’re certainly hoping that he responds to treatment this week. He can’t do any more damage to it. So it’s just a matter of getting the swelling down and getting the range of motion back.”

Rosenthal, a redshirt junior from Miami, allowed a mere seven goals in 2008, good for a 0.43 goals against average, the best in the Big Ten.

Expected to fill in as goalie is NU freshman Drew Kotler, whose start in the 2-0 loss at Indiana on Friday was the first of his career.

Junior defender Pat Coleman said that while the goalkeeper situation is not ideal, the defense needs to improve if the Cats, who have lost four of their last five matches, are to turn things around.

“Misha being out, that hurts a little but we have great backup goalies that can come in,” Coleman said. “If (the defense) keeps the ball and controls more of the ball, we won’t have to defend so much. So, as defenders we need to distribute the ball better so we can work on an attack.”

Coleman, a veteran of two Big Ten tournament and two NCAA tournament appearances, has witnessed a number of changes behind him in goal.

Last year, an injured Rosenthal missed the Big Ten tournament and parts of the regular season. But he was able to recuperate in time to play in the NCAA tournament.

Still, despite missing their powerhouse performer between the posts, Coleman said the Cats still expect to play well in the conference tournament.

“One of our goals this whole season has been to win the Big Ten tournament and be Big Ten champions,” Coleman said. “So we’d like to win this tournament a lot. But most importantly I think we want to get back to playing hard. If we put in a good performance, no matter how far we make it, I think we’ll feel positive improvement. We’ll be setting ourselves up nicely for an NCAA tournament run.”

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