Men’s Soccer: Wildcat defense stays strong in win over DePaul

Julian Gerez, Development and Recruitment Editor

Northwestern was its usual solid self defensively, pulling off a 1-0 win against neighbors DePaul on Wednesday in Evanston.

Junior midfielder Cole Missimo scored his third goal of the season and the only goal of the match with a low, driven shot in the 57th minute. The scoreline was not indicative of the events of the match, with the Wildcats outshooting the Blue Demons 13 to 7 in dominant fashion. Senior goalkeeper Tyler Miller, two-time Big Ten defensive player of the week this season, picked up his sixth shutout in just eight appearances this season in another great performance.

NU continued its streak of not scoring in the first half of any of their eight matches this season, but coach Tim Lenahan said he wasn’t worried about that statistic.

“We had a chance to score in the first ten seconds of the game,” Lenahan said. “You’re just hopeful that those great opportunities start to come your way, but you have to create more chances to do that.”

Lenahan likened Wednesday’s victory to those of a famous London Premier League team.

“But then you get to a point where (you ask) do you want to score a second goal, a third goal — or with 15 minutes left, we’re going to close up shop and get that one-nothing win, and that’s what happened,” he said. “As long as you get one and keep the other team at zero, there’s been a lot of championships won in this world (like that), Chelsea being one of those teams.”

The Cats came out of the gates running, creating a couple of early chances within the first five minutes of the matchup, including a shot by freshman midfielder Sam Forsgren which went agonizingly wide.

Despite the early excitement, the game slowed down considerably in the middle of the second half, with NU content to maintain possession and DePaul looking to absorb the pressure defensively.

The Cats did remain the brighter of the two teams, however, winning a couple of corner kicks in succession. On one such occasion, NU orchestrated the best chance of the half.

A short corner play drawn up on the training ground eventually fell to senior defender Nikko Boxall missing an absolute sitter. The New Zealand native skied it over the bar from six yards out with only the keeper to beat.

In a physical first half, it was DePaul senior Anthony Hunter who received the first caution of the match for a rough challenge in the 38th minute.

NU picked up where it left off right after the second half kick off with Missimo putting a shot high. He was able to make up for his missed shot when he put an unassisted low shot to the right of the Blue Demons keeper from just outside of the box 12 minutes into the second half. The junior stole the ball from a DePaul player in order to create the goal, which he was pleased with.

“My freshman year I always got a bunch of crap for not defending well,” Missimo said. “Coach (Lenahan) has just pushed me to defend way harder and said goals will come if you defend, so it feels good to get one off defending.”

With the deadlock broken, the match really opened up and DePaul finally got some chances. Miller remained relatively untested until the 60th minute after some pressure from the Blue Demons.

The rest of the match had chances for both sides, but again it was NU who had the most clear and the highest number of opportunities. Some pressure and a couple of corner kicks in the last 10 minutes of the match were not enough for DePaul to equalize.

The Cats are back in action again Sunday at Indiana for a tough Big Ten matchup.

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