In its second game of the Wisconsin Invitational, Northwestern (2-1-1) looked in control of the contest against No. 15 Fordham (3-0-0), jumping out to a 2-0 lead.
Then everything fell apart for the Wildcats.
A deflected ball led to the Rams’ first goal and two additional ones, including a game-winning score six minutes into overtime, gave NU its first loss of the 2018 campaign.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Cats beat Valparaiso 1-0 in their first game of the invitational on Saturday.
“I thought for the most part we did a pretty good job,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “Obviously shutting out Valparaiso on Friday and for 70 minutes played well today, but (we) gave up kind of a fluke goal and that broke the seal a little bit.”
Through the first two games of the season, NU’s defense did not give up a goal and that continued against the Crusaders. In that game, the Cats relied on their defense and sophomore goalie Miha Miskovic, who had three saves, to keep Valparaiso from scoring.
Offensively, NU missed seven shots before sophomore midfielder Tommy Katsiyiannis connected for his first goal of the season.
In their game Monday, the Cats offense came out firing on all cylinders. Freshman midfielder Bardia Kimiavi scored in the 27th minute to give NU an early lead. Kimiavi has racked up two goals in his first four collegiate games.
“I like to play to my strengths whether that is speed down the flanks or combining in the attacks,” Kimiavi said. “Every time I get the ball, I try my best to create something for the team and I think we’ve been pretty successful in the first couple of games.”
Junior midfielder Mattias Tomasino doubled the Cats’ advantage with a goal in the 63rd minute. However, momentum shifted in the 68th minute when Fordham’s Jack Sluys answered with a goal of his own off of a deflection.
The Rams, who were NCAA Tournament quarterfinalists in 2017, grabbed control of possession and momentum before scoring the equalizer in the 83rd minute to force overtime.
The overtime period didn’t last long as Bart Dziedzic scored in the 96th minute to complete the comeback against the Cats.
“There’s a reason they went to the Elite 8 last year,” Lenahan said. “They have quality players in the attack and if you give them enough chances, they’re going to make you pay, and they did.”
Miskovic said the defense let up a couple of silly goals and gave Fordham too many chances in the second half. He said the weekend would be a learning experience for the rest of the season.
“As a team, this was the first couple of goals we conceded this year,” Miskovic said. “We need to work on better responses after getting scored on and keeping our heads up.”
NU will now have a week to prepare before it plays at Loyola-Chicago on Friday, but Coach Lehanan said he is happy with what he has seen from his team thus far.
“We’re a work in progress here,” Lenahan said. “I’m very happy with our effort. I’m very happy with how they’re adapting to their scheme we want to use. We just gotta grow and get better.”
Email: [email protected]