Men’s Soccer: Northwestern unravels on the road against Bradley


Daily file photo by Meghan White

Sophomore defender Nikko Boxall was given a red card for a tackle on a Bradley breakaway. Northwestern played much of the second half down a man.

Ava Wallace, Reporter

For perhaps the first time this season, Northwestern had more problems than solutions.

NU’s (7-2-2, 2-0-0) 3-1 Wednesday night loss to Bradley (6-3-2, 0-0-0) marks the Wildcats’ second defeat at the hands of an in-state opponent this season. The Cats began the game with good energy. Senior midfielder Kyle Schickel struck the first shot of the game 20 minutes after it started and freshman defender Henry Herrill put the Cats on the board with his first career goal.

But halftime marked a turning point.

All three of Bradley’s goals came in the second period, the first just five minutes after the half began and the second just two minutes after that. The third goal was salt in the Cats’ wound, as Bradley’s Ross Williams scored with just 30 seconds left in the game.

Though admitting to a frustratingly fruitless second half, coach Tim Lenahan called the final goal “a nothing goal,” and added that sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Miller was out of position, up at midfield.

“We had to chase the game,” he said. “We chased them and chased them and we didn’t make the play.”

For the last half-hour of the game, the Cats were also playing a man down after sophomore midfielder Nikko Boxall got a red card in the 62 minute on Bradley’s breakaway.

Lenahan said the card, NU’s first of the year, was given for more of a technical issue than an aggressive foul.

“[Boxall] was last to come back, and the rule is if you foul the guy and you’re the last man back then you get the red card,” Lenahan said. “It’s like a breakaway foul in basketball.”

Junior defender Layth Masri said despite the ejection, the Cats adjusted well to the man-down situation. The Cats out-shot the Braves 13-8 in the second half and had double the number of corner kicks for the game, six compared to Bradley’s three.

But Lenahan said the statistics are misleading, as the team missed a penalty kick when senior midfielder Chris Ritter hit his attempt wide. Bradley’s goalkeeper Brian Billings also had eight saves on the game compared to Miller’s two.

“They’re a very resilient program,” Lenahan said. “And they worked their game plan to perfection.”

Schickel, who led the Cats with four shots, said part of what makes Bradley dangerous is its planned plays — the Braves’ first goal was off of a free kick. Despite practicing containing Bradley’s plays, Schickel said the home team’s first goal was the start of NU’s unravelling.

“The game plan was to play our game, keep the ball and also to make sure we didn’t give up any set-piece goals,” he said. “But we gave up a set-piece goal, which is not what you want to do with a team like Bradley. They really go after it in the box.”

The senior also said play was more back-and-forth than the Cats are used to, though NU held possession for most of the game.

Ultimately, Schickel said the loss came down to NU’s inability to create quality chances against Bradley. Nevertheless, he said the team should be able to bounce back against No. 10 Notre Dame, who crushed Pittsburgh 7-1 in their Wednesday evening game.

And despite having a six-day rest before taking on the Fighting Irish at home, Lenahan said his team will return to practice as usual tomorrow.

“Right now we’re licking our wounds a little bit,” Lenahan said. “We’ll give ourselves the night to feel sorry for ourselves and then get back at it.”