Men’s Soccer: Northwestern prepares for road test against UIC

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Men’s Soccer: Northwestern prepares for road test against UIC

 Julian Zighelboim defends a player. The freshman defender has started all 14 games for the Cats this season.

Julian Zighelboim defends a player. The freshman defender has started all 14 games for the Cats this season.

Daily file photo by Alison Albeda

Julian Zighelboim defends a player. The freshman defender has started all 14 games for the Cats this season.

Daily file photo by Alison Albeda

Daily file photo by Alison Albeda

Julian Zighelboim defends a player. The freshman defender has started all 14 games for the Cats this season.

Andrew Golden, Assistant Sports Editor

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Men’s Soccer


For the second time in three games, Northwestern will battle a local rival.

After playing to a draw against DePaul seven days ago, the Wildcats will face Illinois-Chicago.

NU (4-6-4, 0-4-2 Big Ten) has struggled recently and hasn’t won in its last eight games, three of which were on the road.

The Cats will have to bounce back from a tough loss against Rutgers on Friday, when coach Tim Lenahan said his team did not play up to his standards.

“Playing a road game in the Big Ten, there’s a different vibe that you have to bring,” Lenahan said. “I don’t know that we were necessarily ready for that game.”

While NU may not have played to its standards on Friday, the Cats were once again able to generate more shots than they have for most of the season. NU took 16 shots, six of them on goal, and took five corner kicks. But even with all of the opportunities, the Cats only generated one success — a goal from junior midfielder Matt Moderwell.

This has become a recurring theme for NU. For most of the season, NU has struggled to possess the ball and create shots. For a 5-game stretch in the middle of the year, the Cats averaged only 4.6 shots per match. However, in its last three contests, NU has taken 16.67 shots per game.

The new challenge for the Cats to hurdle is to turn their opportunities into goals. Freshman midfielder Connor McCabe, junior midfielder Mattias Tomasino and junior forward Ty Seager all had shots that hit off the post against Rutgers.

Even with the unlucky plays, Lenahan said NU can’t harp on missed opportunities in the last game. He added that the harder you work, the luckier you get with bounces.

The Cats will have to work hard to get some luckier bounces against the Flames (9-3-1, 4-1-1 Horizon League). UIC — which is currently tied for first in the Horizon League — has had success against other Chicago teams. In two games against DePaul and Loyola, the Flames won 2-0 and 2-1, respectively.

In addition, UIC’s offense is explosive, averaging 2.15 goals per game. Forward Max Todd is the Flames’ go-to player, leading the team with 22 points and 11 goals — but he is not the only one scoring goals. Eight other players have scored for the Flames this season.

The Cats’ defense will also have to slow down midfielder Jesus Perez and forward Markell Saddler. Perez has only scored three goals this season, but has the ability to set up his teammates: he is second on the team in points with 16 and first in assists with 10.

Saddler can also do a little bit of everything as he has scored four goals, while also collecting seven assists.

Despite the big challenge ahead for NU, Lenahan believes his team is on the same page and knows the team can play better.

“That’s when you’re starting to come together,” Lenahan said. “When you as a coach and the players can self-evaluate a little bit, I don’t think that overall we were happy with our performance.”

Email: andrewgolden2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @andrewcgolden

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