Northwestern rides four-game win streak into matchup against the Buckeyes

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Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Matt Moderwell dribbles the ball. The senior midfielder is tied for the team lead with eight points.

Drew Schott, Reporter

With their win over the University of Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday, Northwestern is riding a four-game win streak — their first since the 2013 season — into their Big Ten home opener against Ohio State.

Last season, the Wildcats struggled to win in overtime, finishing with a 6-9-5 record and a second round exit from the Big Ten Tournament. However, with their 2-1 overtime victory over UIC, it’s clear the Wildcats’ (5-3, 1-0 Big Ten) ability to win in extra time has improved.

NU played in ten overtime games last year against top teams such as Indiana and eventual national champion Maryland. However, the Cats achieved a 1-9 record in those games.

“We were close, but you have to find that extra resolve,” Lenahan said. “A year of growth can hopefully turn some of these overtimes.”

NU won its first overtime victory at home since 2017 thanks to sophomore attacker Jose del Valle, who scored the winning goal in overtime. Thus far, the Wildcats have split their first two overtime matchups this season.

Emphasizing their growth from the previous season, Lenahan described this year’s squad as having strong and passionate competition, which has helped lead them to victory.

NU played the Buckeyes (5-3, 0-1) in the Big Ten twice last season and went 1-0-1, with their lone victory coming in the first round of the 2018 Big Ten Tournament.

The Buckeyes are currently in a two-game losing streak, but the team has a strong roster with players such as forward Devyn Etling, currently tied for the Big Ten lead in goals, and midfielder Jack Holland, who is tied with three other players for the most assists in the conference. Additionally, Ohio State has a strong presence in the net, as goalie Parker Siegfried leads the conference with 2 shutouts.

However, Northwestern also has one of their best players in goal: Miha Miskovic. The junior goalie, who tied for first in the Big Ten with eight shutouts last year, is currently fourth in the conference for saves with 23. Additionally, Cats senior midfielder Matt Moderwell is tied with Ohio State’s Holland with 4 assists, with two coming from the UIC game. He’s also tied as Northwestern’s point leader, with midfielder Bardia Kimiavi.

Despite their win streak, Lenahan still believes his team needs to perform at a higher level to achieve more victories. He said the team was “flat” for the first 70 minutes of the game versus UIC. The squad needs to be able to adjust to their schedule of attending classes and then playing games, he added.

“We have to learn how to go to school during the day and come play a high level soccer game at night,” he said. “Ohio State has the luxury of staying in a hotel and relaxing all day, while our guys are splitting atoms and writing sonnets or predicting world economies.”

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