Men’s Soccer: Powerhouse Indiana awaits match against Northwestern

Julian Gerez, Development and Recruitment Editor

On the back of a derby victory and solid defensive performances, Northwestern (4-1-3, 0-1-1 Big Ten) travels to perennial contender and No. 17 Indiana (5-1-2, 1-1 Big Ten) for a tough conference matchup Sunday.

The Cats will look to pick up their first Big Ten win of the season against the Hoosiers. NU’s defense has held its opponents to just three goals this season, but they’ll have to be at their best to stop a dangerous Indiana attack. The last time the two teams met was in Evanston last season on Nov. 8, with the Hoosiers winning convincingly, 3-0. NU coach Tim Lenahan is not taking the challenge lightly.

“Obviously this is a very difficult opponent for us,” he said after Wednesday’s match against DePaul. “Indiana at Indiana is like (playing Manchester United) at Man U. There’s eight stars across the top of their shirt for a reason. That’s because they’re the most storied team in college soccer history.”

The Hoosiers defeated Central Florida 4-2 at home Wednesday, finally finding their true rhythm on offense, scoring more than two goals for the first time this season. Indiana doesn’t have a true conduit by which their attack flows, with three players tied for the team-lead with 2 goals apiece.

The Cats will look to find an offensive rhythm of their own Sunday. Joint-top scorer for NU, junior Joey Calistri, will be hoping to find the back of the net for the first time since the second match of the season against Hofstra. However, junior midfielder Cole Missimo has really hit his stride, scoring game winners in the match against Valparaiso and the match Wednesday against DePaul. The Texan has three goals this season, after previously only scoring once in his college career.

“I’ve struggled my first two years of putting goals in the net,” he said after the match Wednesday. “It’s finally feeling like my year. It’s good to get a couple goals to help our team win.”

In terms of cautions, the Hoosiers have been well-disciplined, picking up only six yellow cards and no red cards in their eight matches this season while forcing their opponents to receive 15 yellow cards and one red card. NU on the other hand, has received nine cautions and a single red card, so they’ll need to play carefully to avoid being a man down.

Another showdown to keep an eye on is the battle between the two goalies. Cats senior goalkeeper Tyler Miller holds the all-time NU record for shutouts and has three consecutive clean sheets this season. He is tied for the lead in the Big Ten for shutouts this season with a total of six and has made 24 saves in the eight matches he has played, earning himself the honor of Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week twice this season. Hoosiers sophomore goalkeeper Colin Webb earned the same award earlier this month and has made 20 saves this season, keeping four clean sheets.

Lenahan compared the Cats to Chelsea in their victory against DePaul on Wednesday and likened Indiana to the historic Manchester United. If these two college teams are anything like their Premier League counterparts, we should be in for a great match.

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Twitter: @JulianEGerez