Men’s Soccer: Cats ready to ride the rails against DePaul

Dan Ryan

Summing up Northwestern’s season to date can be boiled down to one word: finishing.

In addition to their back-to-back losses against Portland and Valparaiso earlier this season, the Wildcats had multiple opportunities to win their game against Michigan State last Saturday. NU had 10 corner kicks in the second half but failed to create a significant threat on any of them.

“We got to create more chances,” senior forward Oliver Kupe said. “We got to put more goals on the scoreboard, but we haven’t lost a game in the last three games, so we’re definitely on the upside.”

The Cats have had success despite their struggles with closing, however. The team has been competitive in every game and has featured strong play from the back line and midfield. Five different players have scored for NU, led by Kupe with three and junior midfielder Chris Ritter with two.

Freshman goalkeeper Tyler Miller has also been a sensation, recording four shutouts on the year and surrendering just 0.54 goals per game, good for second and third in the Big Ten respectively.

“(We just need to) keep playing the way we’re playing,” Kupe said. “We’re playing very well. There’s not one game where we haven’t dominated the game and were better than the other team. It’s just a matter of keeping a zero on the opponent’s scoreboard and keep putting some goals in the net for us.”

With the team heading to DePaul for a noon game on Wednesday, head coach Tim Lenahan admitted converting on chances late in the game will be important in beating the Blue Devils.

“DePaul is a tough game, in the city, by the L,” Lenahan said. “Obviously we got to do a better job finishing our chances or creating some more things in the final third.”

Lenahan was quick to point out, however, that NU has excelled on the defensive side of the ball and praised the play of his midfield.

“We defend very well,” Lenahan said. “Our guys have done a good job kind of locking down the game a little bit. Our combination play in the midfield is good. We play the ball around the back pretty well. We just need to work on getting a few more ideas in the final third to create even better chances.”

Junior forward Kyle Schickel predicted Wednesday’s matchup would be very similar to most of NU’s games this season, however, featuring defense and scrappy play.

“It’s going to be a grind game, their field is a little shorter,” junior forward Kyle Schickel said. “We can’t give up cheap fouls and set pieces. And we have to fight in the box when we do. Hopefully we can come out, get a shutout, and get a win.”

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