Men’s Soccer: Northwestern scores five against Wisconsin Tuesday, wins first of the season

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Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Ugo Achara Jr. catches up to the ball Friday against Michigan. On Tuesday against Wisconsin, the sophomore forward came through with his first two goals of the season, including a wonderstrike from inside the 18-yard box that put Northwestern up 3-0.

Greg Svirnovskiy, Sports Editor


Men’s Soccer


Coach Tim Lenahan had a message for his team following its season opening loss to Michigan: turn up the intensity and cut down on mistakes.

“You can’t beat the Michigans of the world playing that way,” Lenahan said after the game, in which Northwestern was outplayed in every statistical metric.

But NU brought an intensity to the Tuesday game against Wisconsin, with NU’s attackers controlling the pace of play for much of the first half. They worked against Badger defenders and zipping the ball around the pitch with reckless abandon. And they scored a lot, especially early on.

First it was junior midfielder Richie Bennett, whose right-footed strike from the middle of the 18-yard box was so strong that it beat Wisconsin goalkeeper Sven Kleinhans, even after he’d squared himself in front of the ball. It put the Cats up 1-0 inside the first 15 minutes.

And NU built on its lead, unlike its game against Michigan, which saw the team give up four second half goals.

Sophomore forward Ugo Achara Jr.’s towering header in the 20th minute gave the Cats their first set piece goal of the season, putting them up 2-0. Achara Jr. would tack on nearly ten minutes later, when his curled effort from inside the box passed through the outstretched arms of Kleinhans and into the top left corner of the goal.

It was a stunning strike, one that had been set up by a ranging run from junior midfielder Bardia Kimiavi. Kimiavi received the ball on the wide right hand side of the pitch, before turning on a dime and cutting inside, getting past two Wisconsin defenders before dropping the ball right into Achara Jr.’s path.

“We know what kind of talent Achara Jr. has, his ability to make plays,” Lenahan said.

Each team would hit paydirt twice in the second half, with all four goals coming in a frenzied ten minute stretch when sophomore midfielder Logan Weaver and senior forward Spencer Howard each pitched in with their firsts of the season.

But NU would struggle to keep the ball out of its own end for much of the second half. Wisconsin had ten shots to the Cats’ two in the final frame. Some of the defensive frailties evident against Michigan came back to the fore.

“We really have to do a better job of managing our emotions,” Lenahan said. “We score a goal, we’re happy, we all celebrate, it’s great. But then we have to flip the switch and say let’s make sure we bunker down.”

The five goals Northwestern scored were the team’s most against a Big Ten opponent since November 2004, when a high powered group of players, now in their 40s, took Michigan 5-0 en route to NU’s first ever appearance in the Big Ten title game. They’ve only been back one time since, winning the whole thing in November 2011.

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Twitter: @gsvirnovskiy

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