Men’s Soccer: Wildcats look ahead to matchup with Spartans


Daily file photo by Alison Albeda

Connor McCabe closes down on an opponent. The freshman midfielder has six shots this season.

Stephen Council, Reporter

Men’s Soccer

Northwestern is ready to flip the script.

The Wildcats will return to Big Ten action this Friday in East Lansing, Mich. against No. 13 Michigan State. The Spartans have been a dominant force this season, and NU (4-7-4, 0-4-2 Big Ten) will look to come home with an upset victory.

The Cats fell on Tuesday night to Illinois-Chicago, 3-1. NU led for the majority of the game, but a trio of second-half goals by the Flames left the Cats winless in their last nine contests.

Coach Tim Lenahan knows Michigan State (10-2-2, 4-1-0) is a potent, successful side. The Spartans are second in the Big Ten and coming off a road win against lowly Ohio State last Friday.

“We gotta get ourselves recharged and get back tomorrow and get the body ready and go play another top-25 team,” Lenahan said.

NU had its fair share of chances against the Flames on Tuesday, but only fired off five shots to UIC’s 26. Junior forward Ty Seager’s goal in the fifth minute was eclipsed in the second half when the Flames netted two goals in rapid succession.

Sophomore defender Garrett Opperman, who played the full 90 minutes against UIC, was disappointed with the result. However, he’s said he is looking forward to the contest with Michigan State.

“We’re excited,” Opperman said. “This is a big week of preparation for us, that game’s gonna be a big game.”

The Cats have experience traveling to face a top team this season. On Sept. 26, they took a 1-1 game into the 87th minute against then-No. 2 Indiana. The Hoosiers came away with the 2-1 win after a late goal, but NU saw the level of competition they could match.

“A lot of us felt that we got kind of cheated out of a win at Indiana and Michigan State is another team of Indiana’s caliber,” freshman midfielder Richie Bennett said.

In East Lansing, NU will go up against a Spartans offense that has compiled 27 goals this season. Michigan State has managed at least 10 shots in each of its last six games, and suffered its only Big Ten loss to Wisconsin on Sept. 30.

The Spartans are led by goalkeeper Jimmy Hague and forward Ryan Sierakowski. The two are both in’s Midseason Top 100 player rankings, at No. 12 and No. 17, respectively.

The Cats’ offense had a rough time against UIC last game, but has been trending up recently. NU has averaged over 13 shots a game in its last four contests, a marked jump from its mid-season shooting woes. Junior midfielder Mattias Tomasino, sophomore midfielder Tommy Katsiyiannis and Seager have led the surge.

Though the Spartans are an experienced team — 10 seniors return from last season’s 13-4-4 team — NU looks at this Michigan State game as a good opportunity. The Cats could not only earn their first Big Ten win of the season, but make a statement.

“We want to show the country and show ourselves that we can be up there with the best,” Bennett said. “So a lot of us, I think all of us, are super enthusiastic to play this game.”

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