Men’s Soccer: Northwestern set for success in second year under coach Payne


Daily file photo by Seeger Gray

Northwestern players high-five one another during a match.

Alex Cervantes, Senior Staffer

Northwestern enters year two under coach Russell Payne with a few familiar faces, a host of new ones and a set foundation for future success.

Following a strong conclusion to the fall season, including an upset, penalty-shootout victory over Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament, the Wildcats hope to carry some of 2021’s late success into 2022.

Despite losing several graduating seniors, junior forward Justin Weiss, NU’s leader in goals and points, is back. Weiss, a first-team All-Big Ten member last season, will spearhead the Cats’ attack alongside senior midfielder Vicente Castro and a potential breakout candidate in junior midfielder Joseph Arena. Castro led NU with seven assists and bagged two goals last season.

Payne has also retained much of his midfield corps. Graduate student Bardia Kimiavi will anchor the group, alongside key cogs in junior Rom Brown and sophomores Collin McCamy and Danh Tran.

The backline for the Cats has been retooled, with the principles and shape remaining the same. During much of the spring season, NU used three center-backs with a pair of wing-backs. Senior defenders Deng Deng Kur and Jack Ratterman were the consistent starters at center-back, with graduate student defender Ethan Dudley operating at the center of the group. A trio of McCamy and sophomore defenders Ibrahim Obeid and Brandon Clagette each played significant minutes at full-back. 

Starting goalkeeper Miha Miskovic is no longer between the sticks for the Cats — Ethan Bandre is gone, too. A competition for the starting gig could emerge between graduate student Christian Garner, senior Kevin Klausz and incoming freshman Paul Walters.

Coupled with the returners, NU is bolstered by the addition of a top-five recruiting class, with six freshmen and five transfers. The Cats’ mix of veterans and youngsters may take some time to gel, but the groundwork is there to push for the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

Related Stories:

Northwestern men’s soccer falls flat in Chicago Cup, pair of 1-0 defeats

Northwestern men’s soccer’s tactical shift brings early success in spring 

Leverone: Northwestern men’s soccer is looking up under coach Russell Payne