Men’s Soccer: Snow ends Northwestern’s game against Wisconsin early, teams draw


Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

Matt Moderwell dribbles the ball. The Wildcats drew against Wisconsin in their final Big Ten game, which was called early due to inclement weather.

Greg Svirnovskiy, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Soccer

Northwestern’s final Big Ten matchup of the season against Wisconsin was a frigid affair dominated by wintery conditions — the kind that makes you want to throw on a parka and get out your sled for the winter.

The snow started almost as soon as the game did, first with a light flicker that barely stuck to the playing surface. As the game wore on, it only grew stronger, obscuring the field’s boundaries and making it harder for players to see one another.

And then, the soccer ball literally froze.

NU (7-7-2, 3-3-2 Big Ten) braved the elements Wednesday, toiling on a snowy field in Madison, Wisconsin for 64 minutes before play was stopped and the game was called, ending in a scoreless draw. It’s a testament to the team’s character, coach Tim Lenahan said, that is shaped by years spent battling the upper midwest weather.

As the season goes on and games get tighter, teams begin to play with a more defensive mindset. Wednesday was one of those days. The Cats came out flat against a motivated Badgers team. The game came to an early end just as Wisconsin (2-10-4, 0-4-3) was finding its offensive rhythm, with three shots to NU’s one in the second frame of play.

Lenahan called the draw a fair result, and praised his team for negotiating a point in a tricky matchup. Junior goalkeeper Miha Miskovic’s two saves kept the game scoreless, and the team saw off all six of Wisconsin’s corner kick opportunities. Two of those came in the second half, when Lenahan said his players were just kicking the ball forward, inhibited by the snow.

“I knew tonight was gonna be a very difficult game,” Lenahan said. “And then you throw the weather in there — it was gonna be a very difficult game. I knew that, the team knew that. We warned them but you’re playing them, it’s (Wisconsin’s) senior night, they’re gonna be energetic. We weren’t sharp.”

The draw ensured the Cats’ first finish above .500 since 2014, when the team went 11-4-7 and played in the NCAA Tournament.

NU hasn’t allowed a goal since October 12, when the team surrendered three against Penn State. In the weeks since, they’ve shutout Rutgers, Michigan State and now Wisconsin.

“The unit has come together as a group, all five of them,” Lenahan said. “I don’t know that we’ve given up too many chances. Miha certainly has managed the game well. I think that Jayson (Cyrus) and Mattias Tomasino and Garrett (Opperman) and Logan (Weaver) are really grinding well and communicating.”

It’s been a rebound year for the Cats, who have won three games in the Big Ten for the first time since 2016. NU has allowed just 173 shots, down from 314 a year ago. And they’re committing fewer fouls, from 244 last year to 186 this season.

The team faces against NAIA Marian on Friday, their senior night.

“We’re gonna make sure all the seniors start and have a good send-off,” Lenahan said. “We’re really excited about playing that game and hopefully finding some offensive rhythm as well. We’ll have the ball a lot.”

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Twitter: @GSvirnovskiy