Men’s Soccer: Wildcats can’t overcome history against Braves


Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Junior goalkeeper Tyler Miller and the Wildcats scramble to block the Braves, but the Bradley ball slips past Northwestern’s defense. The Cats failed to advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to Bradley 3-2 at Lakeside Field. The defeat was almost an exact replica of the team’s earlier season match.

Bobby PIllote, Reporter

Northwestern had flashbacks of its previous game against Bradley on Thursday night.

In the opening round of NCAA Tournament play, the Wildcats (10-8-3) fell to the Braves (14-6-2) 3-2 for the second time this season.

“Bradley played very well,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “They’re a tough, tough team to play. … They certainly earned their victory tonight.”

The last time these two teams met on Oct. 2, the Braves took an early 2-0 lead. The Cats rallied back to force overtime but ultimately lost in the extra period.

NU surrendered the opening goal just six minutes into Thursday’s game. Bradley forward Scott Davis corralled the ball from a scrum at the top of the box and blasted it past the NU defense and into the net.

The Cats struck back just five minutes later. Sophomore midfielder Cole Missimo drove deep into the box before passing to junior defender Nikko Boxall, who had a perfect finish to equalize the score at 1-1.

The tie wouldn’t last, however. Bradley struck again in the 27th minute, this time off a corner kick that was headed past a leaping Tyler Miller. The junior goalkeeper finished the game with four saves.

It was a quiet first half for the referees, who noticeably swallowed their whistles on many foul calls for both teams.

Lepe Seetane led the charge for NU at the start of the second period. The senior midfielder, who finished the game with four shots, had an excellent chance just three minutes in. Setanee beat Braves goalkeeper Brian Billings and pushed a shot from 10 yards out, but the Bradley defense made a great recovery and kicked the ball away at the last second.

“It was a great college soccer game,” Lenahan said. “Lots of action. Lots of opportunity.”

The Cats continued to press but struggled to generate chances against a stiff Braves defense. NU finally broke through with 13 minutes remaining in regulation, as junior defender Grant Wilson poked a rebound past a sprawled Billings to tie the game again at 2 goals apiece.

Both teams traded chances down the stretch, but neither was able to find the back of the net. Like their last game, regulation expired in a deadlock. Entering overtime, the Cats looked to redshirt senior midfielder and team co-captain Chris Ritter for leadership.

“We’ve been to a number of OT games this year,” Ritter said, “and lost a bunch of heartbreakers. Not much needed to be said.”

Ritter had a chance to be the hero with a free kick from 25 yards but couldn’t quite bend it over the Braves’ wall. Momentum swung to Bradley, which converted a header off a long throw in to dash NU’s hopes and punch its ticket to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m proud of the way this group stuck with it,” Lenahan said. “We never quit despite all of the things that went wrong this year. … It was the worst season we could’ve had, and we were still an NCAA tournament team.”

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