Men’s Soccer: Despite late goal, Northwestern suffers 3-2 overtime loss to Penn State


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Senior midfielder Matt Moderwell attempts to dribble the ball past a Bowling Green player.

Drew Schott, Reporter

It looked like Northwestern was headed toward its second draw of the season.

But Penn State had other plans.

In the 98th minute, junior goalie Miha Miskovic blocked a shot from Nittany Lions’ midfielder Aaron Molloy with a diving save. But the ball deflected back into the box where Pritchatt’s teammate, Liam Butts, fired off a rebound. Miskovic, still on the ground, stuck out his leg in an attempt to save the shot, but the ball rocketed past him as Butts handed Penn State (6-2-2, 3-1-1 Big Ten) a 3-2 overtime victory over the Wildcats (5-7-1, 1-3-1 Big Ten).

“We gave everything we have. Our guys were warriors out there today,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “If the soccer gods were with us a little bit, we’d come away with at least a point there.”

NU’s loss to the Nittany Lions is their third straight in Big Ten play. The squad has fallen to eighth place in the Big Ten and hasn’t won a conference matchup since Sep. 20.

In the first half, the Cats blocked shots and played aggressive defense, holding Penn State scoreless, despite playing most of the half a man down.

In the 17th minute, sophomore defenseman Julian Zighelboim tackled Butts while the latter was on a fast break. Zighelboim received a red card and forced NU to play shorthanded for the second straight game.

Despite taking only two shots to the Nittany Lions’ nine in the first 45 minutes, the Cats were the team that broke the tie.

In the 49th minute, senior midfielder Matt Moderwell collected a loose ball between four defenders, dribbled, and fired a shot with his left foot. The ball curved to the right and bounced past diving Penn State goalie Joshua Levine to give NU a 1-0 lead.

The Nittany Lions responded quickly.

In the 56th minute, Penn State midfielder Callum Pritchatt received a long pass from defenseman Will Campbell and fired a shot. Miskovic’s outstretched hands barely missed the ball as it rolled into the goal and knotted the game at one apiece.

Nearly five minutes later, Butts fired a rocket into the top right corner of the net to make it a 2-1 game.

After giving up the second goal, Lenahan kept changing the squad’s formation to maximize their offensive potency.

“There’s an incrementalism to go at the 20-minute mark,” he said. “We start at a 4-3-2 because, again, we’re short one guy. Then, with 15 minutes left, we’re in a 3-2-2-2. With five minutes left… you’re in a 3-1-2-3. You gotta push numbers forward.”

The strategy eventually worked in NU’s favor. In the 85th minute, sophomore midfielder Mattias Tomasino tied the game at two by nailing a free kick goal from 35 yards out.

In the loss, the Cats were outshot for the fourth game in a row, as the Nittany Lions took 20 more shots than NU.

NU was without three players. Sophomore midfielder Bardia Kimiavi didn’t play for a fourth straight game because of an injury and senior forward Ty Seager couldn’t participate because of his red card from the Cats’ loss to Loyola. Senior defender Andrew McLeod was out with an injury.

Before facing Rutgers next Sunday, NU will play an exhibition game Monday against Div. III Aurora University. Lenahan said the match will mainly feature redshirts and reserves. He said the game is a great way to strengthen the bond of the team.

“The other guys that played lots of minutes tonight… will not play, but they’ll be there on the bench supporting that group,” he said. “And I think that’s important for the team… that group to support the guys that have been supporting them all year.”

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