Men’s Soccer: Wildcats snap win streak in loss to Michigan State


David Lee/The Daily Northwestern

Francisco Tomasino kicks the ball. The senior goalkeeper and the Wildcats lost 2-0 to No. 9 Michigan State on Friday.

Ella Brockway, Reporter

Men’s Soccer

Before Northwestern’s Friday night Big Ten matchup against No. 9 Michigan State, junior midfielder Camden Buescher said the first 15 minutes would be the most important, and that if the Wildcats could hold the Spartans scoreless in that span, they’d have a better chance of winning.

In a cruel twist of irony for NU, it was not the first 15 minutes, but the final 15, that killed the Cats.

NU (5-10-0, 1-6-0 Big Ten) conceded goals in the 77th and 87th minutes and fell 2-0 to Michigan State (11-2-2, 5-0-2 Big Ten) on Friday night in its final home contest of the conference season. The loss snapped its three-game win streak and marked the fourth time this season it conceded a goal with less than two minutes left in regulation.

“We got the game we thought we were going to get,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “We can’t give up the late goal, which basically seals the game. It really comes down to making a play, and certainly, they made the play.”

The Cats balanced their pre-match goals of pressing forward their attack and containing Michigan State on the defensive end in the first half. NU earned three corner kicks in the first 14 minutes of the match, but was unable to convert on any scoring chances off the early set pieces.

Its best offensive opportunities came at the start of the second half on a free kick from sophomore midfielder Mattias Tomasino and a header from sophomore forward Mac Mazzola.

“I thought we started off well in the second half,” Mazzola said. “Then the game kind of settled in and they started taking it to us a little bit. We tried to sit in and attack when we could, but they just got the better of us.”

The Cats struggled to find an offensive rhythm after those two early opportunities, and were forced to contain the Spartans’ offense. NU held Michigan State scoreless for just over 30 minutes in the second half before Spartans defender Michael Pimlott scored in the 77th minute.

Michigan State scored again in the 87th minute when forward DeJuan Jones sent the ball into the middle, allowing forward Ryan Sierakowski to score.

“We knew that they would start coming at us in the second half,” senior goalkeeper Francisco Tomasino said. “Especially with the wind coming at us, it was a little harder for us to come out. They made the most of an opportunity and from there, we were just trying to play catch up.”

Friday’s loss makes the final two games on the regular season schedule even more important for the Cats. NU will face Loyola in a Chicago derby game Tuesday afternoon in its regular season home finale before closing conference play at Penn State.

Though the Wildcats are guaranteed a spot in the Big Ten Tournament, a win over the Nittany Lions would earn them the No. 7 seed and allow them to avoid the first round play-in game.

“Some teams are playing for championships,” Lenahan said. “We joke that we’re playing for relegation.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ellabrockway