Men’s Soccer: Lifeless performance dooms Northwestern against Loyola


Daily file photo by Zack Laurence

A Wildcat sprints for a ball in the box. NU was unable to create chances similar to this in its 2-0 loss at Loyola.

Braden Couch, Reporter

Men’s Soccer

With Halloween just days away, it was a fittingly dark and dreary night of horrors for Northwestern. From the sideways rain to hounding defenders, it was not a good night for the Wildcats as they lost to Loyola 2-0 on Tuesday.

The Wildcats (6-7-2, 2-3-0 Big Ten) came into the game fresh off an impressive 1-0 victory over Michigan State, and it showed through the first 10 minutes.

Keeping possession and pressing Loyola (9-3-3, 2-1-1 Missouri Valley Conference) up the entire length of the field, the Cats appeared well on their way to another positive result. Entering the evening 35th in the NCAA RPI, NU was playing at the level expected of top teams.

This came to a screeching halt in the 10th minute. A nice save by the Cats’ senior keeper and reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, Zak Allen kept the Ramblers off the board, but NU no longer maintained possession outside its defensive third.

Cats sophomore forward Elo Ozumba attributed some of the shift in play to both the playing conditions and Loyola’s intensity.

“We had good ball movement in the early minutes, but as the game wore on I don’t know what it was,” Ozumba said. “The weather, tired legs — we didn’t look good out there.”

The scoring opened in the 23rd minute, when NU allowed the Ramblers to pass the ball freely in and out of the box. After a string of four short passes left Allen out of place, the ball found the back of the net courtesy of a slow roller from Loyola midfielder Brody Kraussel.

From there on out the Ramblers had their way with the Cats. Although Loyola would only find the back of the net once more, in the 32nd minute off a 30-yard screamer from midfielder Kyle Thomson, there was no doubt the Ramblers were in control.

NU managed only one shot on target all night, appeared out-matched by Loyola’s size and speed, and seemed listless save for the occasional counter-attack. The ball rarely left the Cats’ half, and many of its players looked to the ground in frustration and disappointment.

Cats coach Tim Lenahan agreed.

“The team we played was better than us, they executed better than us, they did everything better than us,” he said. “I went and sat down for the last 15 minutes because there was no effort.”

The deluge of rain mirrored Loyola’s continual offensive onslaught up the field, and the final score of 2-0 was close despite Loyola’s high level of play.

Cats senior forward Henry Herrill echoed the sentiments of his coach.

“We didn’t position ourselves well, and we didn’t compete well,” he said.

NU does not have an abundance of time to make any necessary adjustments. Only two games remain in the regular season with road contests against Big Ten foes. The Cats will look to rebound this Sunday at Penn State, and the Big Ten Tournament kicks off in less than two weeks.

NU still remains in the NCAA tournament conversation, but will not with performances similar to this in the future.

“We got out worked, you can’t even talk about performance when you get out worked,” Lenahan said. “I don’t know what it was, maybe midterms, the weather … We didn’t look alive out there, we looked like zombies. There is nothing positive we can take from this performance.”

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