Men’s Soccer: Northwestern holds off late Ohio State rally for the win

Dan Ryan

The Wildcats must have grown tired of hearing they can’t score.

Northwestern (5-4-3, 1-0-1 Big Ten) answered critics of its lackluster offense Wednesday, scoring three goals in the first 58 minutes to defeat Ohio State 3-2.

But the first 30 minutes of play gave no hint of the offensive display that would follow. The teams slowly felt each other out until NU finally got its chance.

At the 35-minute mark, junior midfielder Chris Ritter fired the opening salvo, taking a pass from sophomore defender Jarrett Baughman and heading it into the goal. This sparked an outburst from the Cats.

“I thought there was a stretch for about 45 minutes, at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half, where we really played well,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “We really did a good job keeping the ball at midfield and creating some very good chances off the bat. For that stretch where we scored the three goals, we were exceptional.”

Shortly after the half ended, senior forward Oliver Kupe, who was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after scoring a goal apiece against Ohio State (7-5-1, 2-1-0) and Notre Dame, followed Ritter’s lead with a header of his own to push the score to 2-0.

Junior midfielder Kyle Schickel added to the lead 10 minutes later, taking a Baughman pass from the left side and hammering it into the back of the net.

Despite the gaudy offensive numbers, NU could not avoid old habits. Junior midfielder Nick Gendron received a yellow card in the 74th minute, and Ohio State converted the ensuing penalty kick to pull within two goals.

In the 81st minute, the Buckeyes scored again, and it looked like the Cats might blow another game in the closing minutes.

“We had a 3-0 lead, and they subbed all their players off,” Lenahan said. “The guys that Ohio State sent in did a great job, created two goals and really made it interesting for the last two minutes.”

The NU defense prevented another letdown, however, and the Cats clung onto their lead until the final whistle. The victory puts NU over the .500 mark in both conference and overall record.

“Obviously we want to do a better job of closing the game out,” Lenahan said. “We talked a little bit about that at the end of the game, that we need to find a way to close that game out. We didn’t do that, but we did hang on, and hanging on is better than not hanging on.”

[email protected]