Men’s Soccer: Northwestern prepares for Loyola as season winds down


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Drew Rosenberg lines up a shot. The senior midfielder and the Cats will look for a big upset against local rival Loyola on Wednesday.

Mariana Alfaro, Web Editor

Men’s Soccer

As the end of the regular season approaches, Northwestern is preparing to face another crosstown rival.

The Wildcats (4-10-1, 2-4-1 Big Ten) will face No. 11 Loyola (12-1-1) Wednesday at Martin Stadium after Michigan State snapped NU’s two-game winning streak with a 2-1 win on Saturday.

After that defeat, coach Tim Lenahan said the team’s recent wins — against winless Rutgers 2-1 in overtime Oct. 14 and then-No. 4 Notre Dame at Toyota Park 2-1 on Oct. 18 — took a physical toll on the team. Junior goalkeeper Francisco Tomasino, however, said the Cats are ready to bounce back against a crosstown foe.

“We need to make sure we’re organized (defensively),” Tomasino said. “There were a couple of times against Michigan State when a piece or two were disconnected, and it hurt us.”

NU’s best performance of the season came in the game against Notre Dame, which senior forward Mike Roberge iced with a goal early in the sudden death overtime period. The Cats have earned some of their best results in games that hit the extra session, finding good opportunities to set up quick, effective plays within the first minutes of overtime.

The Cats will hope to strike quickly against Loyola, which enters the game hot. The visitors are unbeaten in their last six games.

Loyola’s coach Neil Jones spent three seasons as NU’s associate head coach, helping the Cats win consecutive Big Ten Conference titles and reaching an NCAA Tournament before moving to Loyola in 2012. Jones has had his greatest success over the last two years, when the Ramblers were undefeated at home and earned a spot in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

“He’s done a phenomenal job,” Lenahan said. “They do a great job of squeezing you defensively.”

The Ramblers have won their last two meetings against the Cats, taking down NU 2-0 last year. NU still holds a narrow 7-19-6, all-time advantage over Loyola, though.

In order to defeat the Ramblers and improve upon the series record, the Cats must strengthen their offense, which mustered just four shots against Michigan State. The NU defense was strong during the first half against the Spartans but failed to retain their strength during the final 40 minutes of the game as the Spartans scored a pair of goals.

Junior forward Elo Ozumba, who scored the Cats’ only goal against Michigan State, said NU needs a “good all-around game” Wednesday.

“If we’re able to play together as a team, then we should find some success against them,” Ozumba said.

Marty Johnson contributed reporting.

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