Men’s Soccer: Wildcats waver in double-OT against Wolverines

Bobby Pillote, Assistant Sports Editor

The wind was howling at Lakeside Field, but it wasn’t strong enough to push either team to victory.

In its second Big Ten fixture of the season, Northwestern (3-1-3, 0-1-1 Big Ten) slogged to a scoreless tie against Michigan (1-3-2, 0-0-2). Graduated NU midfielder Chris Ritter, who now plays professionally for the Chicago Fire, was in attendance, but his presence wasn’t enough to spark a win.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair, characterized by swarming defense, short possessions and chippy play.

Junior forward Joey Calistri, who leads the team this season with 3 goals, was involved with the Cats’ best offensive chance in the 33rd minute. Sophomore midfielder Jeffrey Hopson had a clean shot from 15 yards out and blasted it off the left post. Calistri corralled the rebound and had a look at an open net, but pushed his attempt just wide left of the goal.

Newcomer Sam Forsgren had a busy period but struggled to generate anything substantial. The freshman midfielder had a pair of good-looking crosses from the left side of the box late in the first half, but each found nothing but open grass as they bounced out across the far touchline.

“I think it’s people maybe making the wrong run or just running to the wrong place,” Forsgren said about the errant balls. “I don’t think it’s a lack of effort at all, just a lack of communication.”

Otherwise, there wasn’t much offense to speak of in the opening frame, with both teams playing an aggressive defense and repeatedly dispossessing each other in the middle third.

That chippiness continued in the second half, highlighted by senior right back Grant Wilson hip-checking a Michigan player off the ball. That play was good for the Cats’ second booking of the game.

And accordingly, Forsgren also remained busy.

“He’s really coming on,” coach Tim Lenahan said of Forsgren. “Now he’s starting to get a feel for (the game), and I think it’s really going to add to our attack.”

In the 56th minute, he brought the ball up the left touchline and found Calistri at the near corner of the six-yard box. Calistri used a fancy pivot kick to get around his defender, but the attempt floated wide right of the net.

Forsgren found Calistri again in the 59th minute, this time on a cross that Calistri tried to redirect with a back heel kick from the middle of the box. NU’s go-to goal scorer made good contact but once again pushed the shot wide right.

The active freshman also had a chance to capture glory for himself just two minutes later, leaping up to head on a ball that was played into the box. Forsgren was past every defender, but Michigan goalkeeper Adam Grinwis boldly came off his line to beat Forsgren to the ball and punch it away.

The Cats stumbled upon a rare chance as the game dragged into the second overtime period. Junior midfielder Cole Missimo poked the ball through the legs of a defender and raced past two more to find open space inside the box near the end line.

He crossed it to Calistri, whose shot was deflected away. Sophomore midfielder Brandon Medina found himself with the ball near the top of the box with plenty of room, but hesitated just a moment too long and sent his shot a foot over the crossbar with Wolverine defenders closing in.

As the clock expired, NU looked defeated and exhausted in spite of the result.

“(Frustration) builds on you, especially in overtime,” Forsgren said. “Your body starts to wear down and you’re just waiting for someone to put one away.”

The Cats will have the opportunity to vent that frustration Wednesday when they host cross-town foe DePaul.

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