Men’s Soccer: Northwestern seeks to avenge last regular season loss


Daily file photo by Mackenzie McCluer

GETTING DEFENSIVE Goalie Tyler Miller and the stingy NU defense have been a big reason behind the Cats’ unblemished record. The team has held their opponents scoreless five times so far this season.

Rohan Nadkarni, Assistant Sports Editor

Fans hoping to catch the hottest undefeated team on campus should look no further than Lakeside Field.

No. 18 Northwestern (6-0-2), unbeaten in the regular season since Sept. 28 of last year, can exact revenge on the team that beat them that night when DePaul (2-5-1) visits Evanston on Wednesday.

The Wildcats lost to the Blue Demons 4-0 last season, but did not falter again until the NCAA Tournament. NU carried that momentum into this season. Now, the defending Big Ten champions look to continue their success.

“Clearly after we played them last year, we knew we had to make some changes,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “Certainly we do remember how that (loss) felt.”

Lenahan referred to the loss as the “bottom” of the Cats’ season, but NU seems to have found its way since the matchup.

The defense currently acts as the Cats’ catalyst for dominance. NU recorded its third straight shutout last week against Michigan, when the Wolverines managed only two shots on goal out of five shots total.

“Our defense has remained steady for the good part of last year and the first half of this year,” sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Miller said. “We trust each other, which is the most important thing in the back.”

On offense, freshman Joey Calistri, senior Chris Ritter and sophomore Grant Wilson lead the team in goals, points and assists, respectively.

Wilson’s five assists lead the Big Ten and make up part of the Cats’ conference-leading 17 assists as a team. The sophomore credits the team’s game plan for the high assist totals.

“We have to stay mentally prepared,” Wilson said. “We’re looking to go around the outsides and combination in the middle when we can.”

DePaul enters the midweek game looking to get back on track after a loss to Marquette in its season opener. The Golden Eagles slammed the Blue Demons with five goals in the first half, sending DePaul to a loss against the only ranked team they faced all season.

“We know that they have pretty good players who are certainly capable of a good performance,” Lenahan said about the Wildcats’ struggling opponent.

To beat the Cats on Sunday, the Blue Demons’ offense needs to step up. DePaul’s highest scoring total in any game this year is two, and the team has been shut out five times.

With NU’s first day of classes on the horizon, Lenahan stressed the importance of preparation.

“The midweek Wednesday game is always a dangerous game for all coaches,” Lenahan said. “School’s getting ready to start here, so distractions are a little bit more. For us it’s making sure the guys stay focused with school starting to heat up a bit.”

On the other hand, the Cats should enjoy their first substantial home crowd of the season at Wednesday’s game, with most students finally arriving at campus. The men’s and women’s basketball teams will be present for a promotion to draw freshmen to the game.

“I’m pretty excited about the crowd coming out,” Lenahan said. “It’s the first time that (the freshmen) are coming to see us play. In the future hopefully they come out because they want to come out.”

The Cats’ opportunity for revenge could be another important factor.

“They left some of their starters for the remainder game (last year),” Wilson said. “We took that as they didn’t respect us as a team. Tomorrow, we’re not going to hold back anything.”