Men’s Soccer: Northwestern defeats Div. III Aurora 6-0 behind Howard’s hat trick


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Spencer Howard celebrates. The junior forward recorded a hat trick on Monday as the Wildcats won 6-0 in a home exhibition.

Drew Schott, Reporter

While Northwestern knew their exhibition match against Div. III Aurora University wouldn’t count towards their overall record, the Wildcats (5-7-1, 1-3-1 Big Ten) still played as if the game did.

With a hat trick from junior forward Spencer Howard, NU defeated the Spartans 6-0. The Cats dominated offensively, taking 21 shots and 4 corners and spent most of the game in their opponent’s third.

Coach Tim Lenahan said that he was able to schedule a mid-year friendly in order to give redshirts and reserves, as well as players returning from injury, a chance to play.

“We were able to manipulate our schedule a little bit so that we had an exhibition game mid-year, which is very unusual, but … very effective,” Lenahan said. “What you want to do when you play these teams that you’re better than is find offensive rhythm. And that’s what we did. So mission accomplished.”

NU started off strong, firing three shots within the first five minutes, matching their total from a 2-0 loss to Loyola last week.

The Cats opened the scoring in the 14th minute, when sophomore midfielder Max Silberg sent a high cross into the box for Howard, who headed the ball into the right corner of the goal.

NU finished the half with 12 shots but couldn’t get another goal. Fortunately for the Cats, while the Spartans had a few chances to score, they leaned on the stellar play of the defense and freshman goalie Kevin Klausz, who notched a shutout in the victory.

In the 53rd minute, the floodgates opened. Howard received a pass from senior forward Ty Seager and fired the ball into the right side of the net for his second goal of the night.

Four minutes later, Howard completed the hat trick. Junior midfielder Drew Viscomi sent a beautiful cross to the left side of the box, and Howard fired a shot on the run with his right foot. According to Lenahan, Howard has scored seven goals in exhibition matches. Viscomi later had a goal of his own.

Sophomore midfielder Bardia Kimiavi entered the game after missing the last four games because of injury. The sophomore from Reston, Va. sent a beautiful cross to the middle of the box that resulted in freshman midfielder Vicente Castro’s first goal of the season. Kimiavi also added a score himself in the 85th minute to put six on the board for NU.

Kimiavi, whose recovery took longer than he expected, said he was excited to get back on the field.

“It definitely felt good (to play),” Kimiavi said. “It’s been pretty frustrating to watch from the sidelines. Hopefully after this, I’ll be good to go for Sunday’s game.”

Coming off the win, Lenahan said a five day break before their match against Rutgers will allow the team to get three days of training, the most the squad’s had since September. Additionally, Lenahan hopes the Cats can finish in the top four of the Big Ten standings, which would guarantee a match at home during the conference tournament.

Howard knows the importance of NU’s final Big Ten matches against Rutgers, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

“Three games will make or break our season,” he said. “If things go our way, we should have a home seed in the tournament.”

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