Men’s Soccer: Northwestern opens season with thrilling overtime win


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Mattias Tomasino dribbles the ball. The sophomore midfielder’s assisted on Mac Mazzola’s game-tying goal Friday.

Hugh Mallen, Reporter

Men’s Soccer

Northwestern finished 1-10 last season in games where they conceded the first goal. In 2017, the narrative started the same but ended differently.

The Wildcats and Valparaiso ended regulation deadlocked. It only took six minutes of overtime, and one touch by sophomore forward Ty Seager, to turn NU’s 1-0 first half deficit into a refreshing celebration.

Seager shot a rocket past the Crusaders’ goalkeeper, finishing senior defender Riley Kelliher’s hustle play. Kelliher collected a loose ball, beat a defender and fired in a cross onto Seager’s right foot.

“We played great as a team,” Seager said. “Guys stepped up and it’s good to do my part in that. I hope to be contributing to as many goals as I can.”

Coming from behind for the win, the Cats displayed a mental toughness on Friday night rarely seen in 2016.

Valparaiso scored in the 30th minute when Adan Garcia beat senior goalkeeper Francisco Tomasino at the far post. The Crusaders’ Michael Cushing set up the goal when he intercepted an errant pass by sophomore defender Andrew McLeod and sent a through ball to Garcia.

“We got casual and they pressed us and we gave up the ball and gave up the goal,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “We do have to eliminate some of the mistakes. (They are a) good opponent with a lot of experienced players, but a come-from-behind win is always good.”

NU shifted momentum in the second half, as sophomore forward Mac Mazzola headed sophomore midfielder Mattias Tomasino’s cross into the back of the net in the 55th minute to tie the game at one goal apiece.

Both Mazzola and Seager’s goals were career firsts, highlighting the increased roles that underclassmen will play this season. Nine of the 15 players who played for NU on Friday night were freshmen or sophomores.

“I feel pretty confident about the team culture,” Lenahan said. “No matter what happens in the games, you grow from the process a little bit. … There’s no such thing as a bad Division I win in college soccer.”

The Cats hope to translate this success across the whole season, and improve from a seventh-place finish in the Big Ten last season.

Tomasino, who was one of three sophomores named to the Big Ten’s men’s soccer preseason honors list, attributed the Cats’ impressive opening night performance to the team’s improved fitness. He said the whole team is excited about their potential for the season.

“Keeping that positive energy and emptying the tank throughout the game,” Tomasino said. “That’s our motto for the year.”

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