Men’s Soccer: Wildcats seek offensive revival as 2017 season begins


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Forward Elo Ozumba takes on a defender during a game last season. The now-senior will spearhead the Wildcats’ offense this fall.

Ben Pope, Summer Editor

Men’s Soccer

Northwestern will have to answer a number of questions offensively in 2017 after a historically poor 2016 campaign.

The Wildcats went 6-11-1 and ranked last in the Big Ten in both goals per game (0.83) and shots per game (9.5) last fall. Only four players scored multiple goals all year and three of those players — everyone except now-senior forward Elo Ozumba — have since graduated.

Considering how sluggish the offense was, however, that high level of turnover might not be bad news, instead giving other players opportunities to become more meaningful contributors.

Forward Ty Seager appeared in 15 games as a freshman last season and showed signs of a potential 2017 breakout in the preseason. The midfield, too, includes several offensive-minded options, such as junior Camden Buescher (who had three assists last season), senior Sam Forsgren and freshmen Max Silberg and Drew Viscomi, who could both see significant playing time.

The fresh roster seemed to pay dividends in the team’s three preseason exhibitions, which all ended in victories — albeit victories that don’t count in the standings.

The back end will likely be the strength of the team, given the talent returning from past squads and coach Tim Lenahan’s always-conservative tactics.

Outside backs Riley Kelliher, senior, and Andrew McLeod, sophomore, each played regular minutes last season. Both 2016 starting center backs will need to be replaced, but NU should have two excellent defensive midfielders to mask the weakness: sophomore Mattias Tomasino, a member of the Big Ten’s all-freshman team last year, and senior transfer Rouven Wahlfeldt, formerly a three-year stalwart at UNC-Greensboro.

Senior goalkeeper Francisco Tomasino, who ranked second in the conference in saves per game last season, should have a secure hold on his starting job.

The Cats’ season begins Friday night at home against Valparaiso before embarking on a challenging road trip through Missouri-Kansas City, Colgate and Syracuse, which could give a good indication of the strength of this year’s team.

If the Cats can find more scoring and get back into the NCAA Tournament mix, they’ll look to a favorable October schedule — four of the team’s last six regular season games are at home — to provide momentum heading into postseason play.

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