Men’s Soccer: Northwestern looks to continue winning streak in tough matchup against No. 12 Maryland


Kelsey Carroll/Daily Senior Staffer

Sophomore midfielder Joseph Arena dribbles the ball upfield during win against Ohio State. Northwestern looks to secure its second conference victory Friday versus Maryland.

Lawrence Price, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Soccer

With five matches left in the regular season, early October would not be an opportune time to lose momentum or take a turn for the worse. But Northwestern has staved off a midseason slide with a winning conference record still in play.

The Wildcats (4-5-2, 1-3-0 Big Ten) hold a two-game win streak thanks to victories over DePaul, 2-0, and Big Ten competitor Ohio State, 1-0. However, the real test comes this weekend in College Park, Md., where NU will take on No. 12 Maryland.

The Friday affair holds significance for the Cats, who are tied for the seventh-best record with four conference matches left before the Big Ten tournament. If the group falls into eighth place, NU will have to solidify their spot in the tourney by competing in a play-in game with the ninth-best team, which is currently Ohio State.

The Wildcats defeated OSU once this season, but giving the Buckeyes a chance at redemption isn’t ideal.

“I’m looking for us to keep believing and keep building that belief,” coach Russell Payne said.  “We have to believe that we will win every game, we have to believe that we’re a team capable of winning a championship. Otherwise, why do we play?”

The Terrapins pose NU its second top-15 national matchup in the last two weeks, as the Cats lost 2-1 to Indiana on Sept. 21. However, Maryland brings in a different component that IU was unable to flex: a high-powered offense.

Alongside leading the conference in shots on goal (62), the Terrapins hold fourth place in points (45) and goals per game (1.5), while spreading the love with the third-most assists with 15. On the flip side, NU hasn’t excelled in these categories. The Cats average the least shots per game (8.09) and the second-fewest shots on goal (39) in the Big Ten.

These numbers may look drastic on the stat sheet, but they haven’t been as visible across the record and game scores. Out of 11 matches, six of the contests have been decided by one goal.

“Anything could happen within 90 minutes,” sophomore forward Justin Weiss said. “Keep pushing our team, everyone is a collective unit, so the more we work for each other, the more we put away chances. I think we can win every single game for the rest of the season.”

A large part of NU’s success when slowing down opposing offenses derives from the team’s last defender — the goalie. At the position, the Cats have allowed the fifth-most goals (11) in the Big Ten, while standing in fourth place for saves (34) and the third-most shutouts with five.

NU has momentum on its side entering the weekend. As the conference tournament approaches, the Cats are trying to set the foundation for a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament and possibly a championship, the program’s first since 2011. The last time the Cats were on a three-game win streak was over two years ago. 

“Just consistency and bringing it all in every time,” graduate goalie Miha Miskovic said of the Cats’ priorities. “The last three games we did that, got the results, so just do the same things and hope for the best.

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