Men’s Soccer: Northwestern preps for Big Ten Tournament


Daily file photo by Alison Albeda

Julian Zighelboim defends. The freshman defender has started every game this season.

Stephen Council, Reporter

Men’s Soccer

Indiana beat Northwestern, 2-1, earlier this year on what the Wildcats felt was an officiating mistake. NU wants another shot, and it can earn a chance this weekend.

The No. 8 Cats (5-8-5, 0-5-3 Big Ten) head to Bloomington, Indiana for the Big Ten Tournament, where they will face No. 9 Ohio State (1-14-2, 0-7-1) in the first round Saturday. No. 1 Indiana (15-2-0, 8-0) has already clinched a quarterfinal slot, and will play the winner of the first-round contest.

NU finished off its regular season with a 6-0 win against Concordia-Chicago last Friday. Senior midfielder Camden Buescher netted three goals, and the Cats found some confidence after going winless in their previous 11 games.

NU tied the Buckeyes 0-0 on Sept. 21, and Ohio State went on to lose nine in a row. However, the Cats know they can’t look past any Big Ten team. Coach Tim Lenahan cited results from all throughout the league when he talked about Saturday’s matchup. Ohio State took No. 2 Wisconsin into overtime last week, and IU edged the Buckeyes just 1-0 the game before.

“There’s so much parity in the Big Ten,” Lenahan said. “It’s hard to win games period, but it’s hard to win games in this conference.”

NU’s side of the bracket, along with Ohio State and Indiana, holds No. 4 Michigan State and No. 5 Maryland. The Big Ten championship game will be on Nov. 11.

Sophomore goalkeeper Miha Miskovic has kept the Cats in games all year. He averages almost four saves a game, and said he is excited to go into the tournament coming off a victory. Miskovic also said he doesn’t want to assume they’ll face Indiana yet.

“We always take it one game at a time, make sure we get a win on Saturday and then we’ll have time to think about Sunday after that,” Miskovic said.

Lenahan is happy with his team’s buildup to the tournament. The players dressed up in costumes before their “fun” Halloween practice, but also have been working hard. NU is heading to Bloomington early for a Friday practice

Despite the one-game-at-a-time attitude, the Cats have been peeking forward at Sunday and Indiana. The Hoosiers beat every team in the Big Ten this year, but were tested on Sept. 26 against NU. In the 60th minute, freshman forward Jose Del Valle was called offsides after scoring a goal that would’ve given the Cats the lead. Indiana capitalized in the 87th minute, and came away with the win.

“If anybody was to knock off Indiana this year I think it could’ve been us,” freshman defender Julian Zighelboim said. “I’m really really excited to walk into the Big Ten Tournament as a lower seed, because nobody expects anything from us, but I really think we’re a team that can knock down some of the higher seeds.”

In the most recent national rankings, Indiana slotted in at No. 2. After a tough loss to Illinois-Chicago a few weeks ago, Lenahan said he still thought they’d bring down a top-25 team this year. If they make it, Sunday is the Cats’ chance to prove their leader right.

“We’re in a kind of ‘Why not us?’ mentality,” Lenahan said. “We’ve been so close all year, we’ve been on the brink of breaking through, why not this weekend?”

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