Before Northwestern faces Penn State at home Sunday, the team plans to make an impression against in-state opponent Loyola.
The Wildcats (9-2-2) and Ramblers (2-7-2) face off in Chicago on Wednesday, when NU will try to add another win to its commanding 19-4-7 series lead (9-0-2 under coach Tim Lenahan)against its lakeside neighbors.
The Cats usually play Loyola later in the season, but last year’s game was cancelled due to weather. The teams’ most recent meeting in 2010 was a 1-0 win for NU, thanks to a goal from then-junior Oliver Kupe.
NU will take the field this week after having Monday off and only a light practice Tuesday. Lenahan said the team takes a little more time to get over emotional wins. After battling then-No. 7 Notre Dame, Lenahan noted some of his players looked tired against Ohio State, despite their mental focus.
“I felt like we kind of cruised through (Ohio State),” Lenahan said. “Hopefully we’ll recharge a little bit … you have to get your lacks back.”
Speedy turnaround aside, NU appears to be confident after its conference victory, the team’s second win in a row at Lakeside Field.
For the Cats, it’s a familiar pattern.
In a span of four games, the Cats nabbed two wins against Michigan and Michigan State but lost their two in-state contests to DePaul and Bradley.
Sophomore midfielder Eric Weberman, whose third career goal this season made the difference against Ohio State, said the key to breaking the Cats’ pattern is to better capitalize on opportunities, a problem that has been plaguing the team all season.
“We have to finish our chances in the final third,” Weberman said. “We had the ball a lot (against Ohio State), but we just couldn’t capitalize. We just need to work on improving in the final third and finding the back of the net a couple more times.”
NU should look forward to playing a physical match Wednesday. Loyola has been assessed six yellow cards and two red in its past five games alone, with 16 yellow and two red for the season. The Cats have been assessed only six yellow cards and one red this year.
Loyola also plays well at home. Both of the Ramblers’ wins have been on their own turf in Chicago, and six of their seven losses have come on the road. The Cats have only one road win in three contests, dropping one and tying the other.
The Ramblers’ most recent match was a home victory, their first conference win of the season. Loyola defeated the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Saturday 1-0. The Ramblers out-shot Green Bay 14-10. Loyola freshman Jake Savino, the team’s co-leading goal scorer with fellow freshman Andrew Raymonds, scored the difference maker.
Both Savino and Raymonds have three goals for the season. Only two other Ramblers have found the net. NU boasts depth, with nine different goal-scorers so far this season.
Weberman came off the bench Sunday to score the decisive goal against Ohio State. The sophomore said the team regularly practices switching up the offensive line and strengthening the defense.
“We all know when we come in we have our roles to do,” Weberman said. “So as long as we perform our role and do our job, things should go as planned.”