Men’s Soccer: Northwestern strikes out once more in overtime

Senior+midfielder+Chris+Ritter+fights+for+the+ball+in+last+week%E2%80%99s+match+versus+Bradley.+Ritter+and+the+midfield+had+a+frustrating+outing+during+their+loss+against+Michigan+State+on+Sunday%2C+but+he+netted+1+goal+in+the+contest.%0A
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Men’s Soccer: Northwestern strikes out once more in overtime

Senior midfielder Chris Ritter fights for the ball in last week’s match versus Bradley. Ritter and the midfield had a frustrating outing during their loss against Michigan State on Sunday, but he netted 1 goal in the contest.

Senior midfielder Chris Ritter fights for the ball in last week’s match versus Bradley. Ritter and the midfield had a frustrating outing during their loss against Michigan State on Sunday, but he netted 1 goal in the contest.

Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior midfielder Chris Ritter fights for the ball in last week’s match versus Bradley. Ritter and the midfield had a frustrating outing during their loss against Michigan State on Sunday, but he netted 1 goal in the contest.

Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior midfielder Chris Ritter fights for the ball in last week’s match versus Bradley. Ritter and the midfield had a frustrating outing during their loss against Michigan State on Sunday, but he netted 1 goal in the contest.

Enrique Perez, Reporter

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No. 5 Northwestern dropped its second consecutive game to visiting Michigan State 3-2 on Sunday.

The Spartans (7-1-1, 1-0 Big Ten) looked dominant in the early going, generating 14 shots to the Wildcats’ (7-3-0, 1-1 Big Ten) three in the first half. Despite that offensive display, NU’s organized defense kept the game at a scoreless draw heading into halftime.

Junior goalkeeper Tyler Miller had a busy outing, making seven saves in the first 45 minutes. Four of those shots came from the Spartan’s forward Tim Kreutz.

The game proved to be a physical one, with the midfield battle intensifying as the game wore on. Players from both sides conceded fouls due to the aggression involved in play. One of those fouls gave NU the opportunity to take the lead.

A hand ball conceded by a Spartan defender gifted the Cats a good spot for a free kick just outside of the box. Redshirt senior midfielder Chris Ritter capitalized on the position and knocked the ball into the top left corner in the 48th minute. Ritter put plenty of power on the ball as Spartan goalkeeper Zach Bennett got a few fingertips on it but did not make enough of an effort to divert the ball.

“We’ve been working hard in practice,” Ritter said. “It’s good to see the things like that pay off in games.”

Just minutes later, freshman midfielder Brandon Medina and sophomore forward Joey Calistri linked up deep into Spartan territory to almost double NU’s advantage. But Bennett made a timely save to keep the Spartans in the game.

The Cats were defending consistently but began to concede fouls in their area. One led to a free kick by Spartan defender Ryan Thelen that surged just above the crossbar and a cautious Miller.

Fouls continued to hinder NU’s performance throughout the afternoon. Eventually, sophomore midfielder Cole Missimo, senior midfielder Lepe Seetane and Ritter were all issued yellow cards. The latter allowed for another free kick in Cat territory. Although it did not make it in, Thelen buried the deflected shot into the corner, out of a diving Miller’s reach.

From that point on, the Spartans continued to pressure on offense. It paid off in the 78th minute, when Kreutz took a deflected cross and shot in the second goal for his side.

“We knew they were very good, not just on set pieces but on secondary balls,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “We’ve been good throughout the years defending set pieces, but we conceded two goals off them today, so I’m disappointed with that.”

Similar to when the Cats bounced back against Bradley last week, they managed to get an equalizer in the final minutes of regulation to send it into overtime.

An attempted save from Bennett went straight into the air. Ritter passed it to Seetane, who made quick work of the ball and headed it into the goal to make it 2-2.

The 87th-minute score took the teams into extra time. During the first period, Calistri almost won it for the Cats but was stopped by Bennett. The second period saw the Spartans go up for good, as forward Adam Montague headed a ball straight into the ground and saw it bounce into the back of the net. With a final score of 3-2, NU lost its second overtime game of the season.

“We have to look to correct those small errors that have been leading to these past two losses,” junior defender Nikko Boxall said. “Everything is fixable, and there’s still time.”

The defeat halved NU’s Big Ten winning percentage, but the Cats won’t have a chance to improve it immediately. NU goes on to play Northern Illinois on Wednesday at Lakeside Field as it tries to return to its winning ways.

Email: enriqueperez2015@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @EPerez1792

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