Men’s Soccer: After improved season, Northwestern looks toward a Big Ten title


Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

Bardia Kimiavi waves to the Martin Stadium crowd. The junior midfielder, who notched 10 points last season, will be one of Northwestern’s most offensive important players for the 2020 campaign.

Drew Schott, Reporter

Men’s Soccer

After finishing fourth in the Big Ten last season, Northwestern is primed to contend for a Big Ten title in 2020, as well as their first NCAA Tournament berth in six years.

Despite losing four straight games in October, the Wildcats (8-8-2, 3-3-2 Big Ten) rode late-season wins against Rutgers and Michigan State to their first home playoff game since 2014. In the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, NU fell to Maryland — the defending national champion — 1-0 at Martin Stadium.

The Cats graduated seven players last season, including two of their top three goal scorers in midfielder Matt Moderwell and forward Ty Seager. As a result, other players will need to step up on offense. Junior midfielder Bardia Kimiavi and junior forward Jose Del Valle — who combined for 17 points in 2019 — are well-suited to lead NU’s fast-paced offensive attack and produce scoring chances.

Senior Garrett Opperman and junior Julian Zighelboim will guide the Cats’ depth-heavy defensive unit. The squad’s 2020 recruiting class brings three defenders to Evanston, including Notre Dame graduate transfer Spencer Farina.

In net, senior Miha Miskovic looks to continue his stellar NU career. Miskovic has notched 13 shutouts over the past two seasons and saved 46 shots in 2019.

Heading into his 19th season in Evanton, coach Tim Lenahan is optimistic in NU’s younger players leading the charge. With the Terrapins, Indiana, Michigan and Penn State coming off matches in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, the Cats will face tough conference play. However, if the squad can knock off perennial Big Ten powers, NU will not only achieve berths in the conference and national tournaments, but also a rise into the college soccer spotlight.

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