Men’s Soccer: Northwestern looking to win three straight in conference play for the first time since 2011


Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

Ty Seager fights for the ball. The senior forward has scored one goal for the Wildcats this season.

Drew Schott, Reporter

Men’s Soccer

Coming into their final conference match last season against Wisconsin, Northwestern had zero wins in Big Ten play. The Wildcats eventually fell to the Badgers, ending their season with an 0-5-3 conference record.

This year, NU (7-7-1, 3-3-1 Big Ten) once again concludes Big Ten play against the Badgers (2-10-3, 0-4-2 Big Ten). However, the Wildcats have completely flipped the script.

The Cats are coming off two straight conference wins against Rutgers and Michigan State. With a victory against Wisconsin, NU would win three Big Ten games in a row for the first time since 2011 and give the Cats four conference wins for the first time since 2014.

Coach Tim Lenahan credited part of the team’s recent offensive successes to the play of seniors, specifically midfielder Matt Moderwell, forward Ty Seager and midfielder Sean Lynch.

“Seniors are starting to play like seniors now,” he said. “They start to see the end and you can see them turn it up a notch.”

The three seniors, in addition to sophomore forward Jose Del Valle, were aggressive in pushing the ball onto Michigan State’s half of the field in the last 10 minutes of NU’s 1-0 victory, Lenahan said. Their aggressiveness eventually culminated with Moderwell’s game-winning goal in the 89th minute.

Lenahan said Mattias Tomasino’s move to defense has also helped boost the back line’s athleticism because of his ability to play on-ball.

Additionally, sophomore defenseman Jayson Cyrus’ athleticism and one-on-one defending has also impressed Lenahan. The coach mentioned how Cyrus’ strong defense forced one of Michigan State’s top players, forward Farai Mutatu, to move to the other side of the field during the team’s previous match.

NU will face a very different Wisconsin team from the one it lost to last season. Last year’s squad finished with six conference wins and was the #2 seed in the 2018 Big Ten Tournament.

This season, the Badgers are sitting last in the Big Ten and rank last in the conference for shots, points, goals and assists. They’re led by freshman midfielder Iñaki Iribarren and sophomore forward Matthew Comisky. Both players lead Wisconsin with two goals and each have one assist.

However, scoring for both NU and Wisconsin will be difficult with two stellar goalkeepers on the pitch in Madison. Junior goalie Miha Miskovic, who is coming off two straight shutouts, ranks fourth in the Big Ten in saves with 42 and has five shutouts on the season. Wisconsin’s goalie, senior Dean Cowdry ranks second in the conference in saves with 53.

Currently, the Cats are ranked fifth in the Big Ten and winning against Wisconsin is incredibly important for NU’s conference seeding, Miskovic said.

However, Moderwell knows that the Badgers’ record by no means makes their match easier than any others.

“At their place, it’s going to be another grind,” Moderwell said. “They’re really gonna make it hard to score, so we’re gonna need to play our best and get the result.”

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