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Men’s Soccer: Disastrous start dooms Northwestern in loss to Wisconsin

Elo+Ozumba+fights+for+the+ball.+The+senior+forward+and+the+Wildcats+allowed+three+goals+in+the+first+21+minutes+and+eventually+lost+3-1+to+Wisconsin.
Elo Ozumba fights for the ball. The senior forward and the Wildcats allowed three goals in the first 21 minutes and eventually lost 3-1 to Wisconsin.

Elo Ozumba fights for the ball. The senior forward and the Wildcats allowed three goals in the first 21 minutes and eventually lost 3-1 to Wisconsin.

Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Elo Ozumba fights for the ball. The senior forward and the Wildcats allowed three goals in the first 21 minutes and eventually lost 3-1 to Wisconsin.

Ben Pope, Reporter

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Men’s Soccer


Twenty minutes into Northwestern’s visit to Wisconsin on Wednesday, three goals by the hosts had already all but sealed the game’s result.

The Wildcats (1-5, 0-2 Big Ten) played the Badgers (2-1-2, 1-1) even or better from then on, and junior defender Emmett Gordon tallied his first career goal for NU, but the early deficit proved insurmountable in a 3-1 loss.

“I told the guys, (Wisconsin has) seven seniors, they’re coming off a loss in their first Big Ten game, they’re at home and they’re going to come right at us, and we have to just survive and let the game settle in,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “Well, the game settled in and we were fine from there, but we were 3 goals down.”

The Badgers opened the scoring in the third minute after a flurry of chances, finally finished off with a wide-open look from just beyond the penalty spot. The lead was doubled four minutes later when senior forward Tom Barlow evaded several Cats defenders and looped a shot into the corner of the net from the top of the box, exciting a crowd of 1,464 in Madison.

And in the 21st minute, a cross in front of goal deflected off a backtracking NU defender and into the goal, leaving freshman goalkeeper Miha Miskovic helpless for the third time.

“We gave up second balls and rebounds and own goals,” Lenahan said. “I was very disappointed in how we approached that.”

The Cats scored their lone goal in the 41st minute, with junior midfielder Camden Buescher’s corner headed off the crossbar by freshman defender Garrett Opperman before eventually bouncing around to Gordon, who buried a one-time volley past an array of Badgers defenders.

Gordon said the goal was a result of a tactical shift after falling into the 3-0 deficit.

“Coach told us to push up more, we needed to get more numbers in attack and support the forwards, and I think we did a good job of that, especially in the second half,” Gordon said. “We played well after going down, just have to work on the first 30 minutes.”

NU outshot Wisconsin 5-4 in the second half and 12-11 for the game, but was unable to get another ball past Badgers goalkeeper Philipp Schilling.

Seeking to snap a five-game losing streak, the Cats’ focus will now shift to Sunday, when NU will host No. 1 Indiana (4-0-2, 0-0-2) in Evanston.

“This is Duke basketball, this is Alabama football, coming to town,” Lenahan said. “There’s eight stars on their shirts for a reason, the number of national championships that they’ve won. … If I have to give a big pep talk for that game, I need to get out of coaching.”

NU took the Hoosiers to overtime in both meetings last season, tying in the regular season and losing in the Big Ten Tournament, largely thanks to some heroics from goalkeepers Robbie White and Francisco Tomasino.

With Miskovic, a highly touted product of the Chicago Fire academy system, having now assumed the starting role over White and Tomasino, the Serbian netminder said his transition to the college game will be tested by Indiana.

“The guys are stronger and faster but I think I’ve handled it pretty well,” Miskovic said. “We just need to work to start straight from the beginning because lately, the first 20 minutes haven’t been good for us.”

Joseph Wilkinson contributed reporting.

Email: benjaminpope2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @benpope111

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