Men’s Soccer: Northwestern’s lapses and mishaps contribute to 3-1 loss against Michigan


Madison Bratley/The Daily Northwestern

Sophomore defender Brandon Clagette tries to keep the ball away from Michigan players.

Self-inflicted wounds told the tale of Northwestern’s 3-1 loss to Michigan Friday night.

“We’ve got to regroup quicker,” coach Russell Payne said. “We’ve got to reset after down moments or after goals, and we didn’t do that. So therefore, we gave ourselves a bigger hole to dig out of.”

Fresh off a 4-2 away loss to Rutgers the previous weekend, the Wildcats entered the contest in desperate need of a victory. In its second year under Payne, NU has struggled out of the gate, going 1-4-2 in its opening seven matches. Each game has included mishaps and moments devoid of composure, which have hindered the Cats from clicking early in the 2022 campaign.

NU’s struggles weren’t evident at kickoff, though. 

The energy at Martin Stadium was palpable. The cool weather brought out droves of supporters from students and the Evanston community alike. The stadium speakers implored the home crowd to pump the energy up — and attendees did just that. Seconds before the game began, NU’s bench clattered as players banged on the overhead cover, creating a cacophony of noise as the official blew his whistle.

“This is a Big Ten school that needs Big Ten support and our student body is awesome,” Payne said. “We do great things at this university. And so I want to see (them) packing the stands, bleeding purple.”

The Cats looked dangerous at first. Early darting runs from senior midfielder Vicente Castro, junior forward Justin Weiss and sophomore defender Brandon Clagette threatened the Wolverine backline. The trio crossed balls into dangerous areas inside the 18-yard box — but no NU player could seize the opportunity.

Momentum shifted to the visitors 30 minutes into the first half. After playing a ball out wide from a free kick, Michigan’s Inaki Rodriguez whipped a ball into the box that Cats sophomore midfielder Collin McCamy leapt up to meet. But his header went awry,  squeezing through a sea of white jerseys to find the bottom left corner — an own goal. 

Disaster struck again just 60 seconds later. A miscommunication on another header allowed Michigan’s Kevin Buca to chase down the ball in the final third. He took advantage of the miscue, slotting home a shot to give the Wolverines a two goal advantage in a matter of minutes.


The Cats limped into halftime down 2-0, searching for a quick response out of the intermission.

Payne said he knew NU would get back into the match, and Castro provided the answer. In the 50th minute, standing over a free kick around 35 yards from goal, Castro found the back of the net from distance.

Facing just a one-goal deficit, the Cats exchanged chances with the Wolverines for the next 15 minutes. But NU’s third self-inflicted wound of the night put the final nail in the coffin. Michigan was awarded a penalty and the Wolverines’ Quin Rogers hammered the shot home to make it a 3-1 game.

“Our guys probably had some of the best fights, the best moments, in terms of pressing, winning the ball, moving it and playing to our strengths versus an opponent that gave us an area

where we could capitalize,” Payne said. “Tonight we found something that we thought we could get after.”

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