Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Men’s Soccer: Nigel Prince delivers for Northwestern in 1-0 win against Indiana

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Daily file photo by Micah Sandy
Graduate student defender Reese Mayer kicks the ball. Mayer assisted Northwestern’s lone goal in its 1-0 win over Indiana Tuesday.

Coach Russell Payne said Friday his team needed to play “Northwestern” soccer to beat Indiana on Tuesday. The Wildcats ultimately prevailed 1-0 against the Hoosiers, propelled by a scrappy first-half goal from sophomore defender Nigel Prince, the first of his career, and park-the-bus defensive tactics in the second half.

“I can envision winning games in a lot of ways, but I definitely didn’t think that (Prince’s header) would be the decider tonight,” Payne said.

It wasn’t “Northwestern” soccer, or at least not what Payne envisioned, but NU (10-2-3, 4-2-1 Big Ten) found a way to navigate a game in which senior forward and leading goalscorer Justin Weiss was limited to just 46 minutes due to an injury –– securing a massive three points in the process. The ‘Cats can clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title if they defeat Michigan on Sunday.

Prince’s winner came against the run of play in the 24th minute. With NU struggling to put any shots on goal, graduate student defender Reese Mayer jogged up the left sideline for a long throw-in. Mayer flung the ball towards the scrum of players in the 18-yard box, and it drifted towards the near post. 

Indiana defender Joey Maher attempted to mark Prince, but the sophomore had a significant height advantage and only had to jump slightly to flick the ball into the back of the net.

The Hoosiers (7-4-4, 3-2-2 Big Ten) looked dangerous to start the second half. In the 62nd minute, forward Alex Barger whipped a cross into the penalty area, forcing graduate student goalkeeper Jackson Weyman to punch the ball away. Indiana continued to pressure the NU defense, but the ‘Cats soaked up the pressure until the final whistle. 

Payne said after he saw his team’s fatigued physical state at the start of the second half, he decided to switch to a more defensive formation. The result was a lopsided shot disparity between the two teams as the Hoosiers finished the game with 21 to NU’s four. Still, Indiana could not find the equalizer in crunch time. 

“That’s the first time we have had to play our starters for that long, and with Justin (Weiss’) injury, we were absolutely dead in the second half,” Payne said. “So I put us in a 5-4-1 to see the game out.”

Prince said he also thought it made sense to switch formations in the second half.

“It definitely makes the load a little bit easier on me as a center back, but I think the coach did a great job of implementing that system at the right time,” he said. “It solidified us on defense and allowed us to get the win.”

The ‘Cats now control their own destiny with one conference game remaining — territory the program has not charted since clinching its last Big Ten regular season title in 2012.

However, Payne is going to use the same message he has all season with his players ahead of Sunday’s game: play “Northwestern” soccer. 

“I think (Michigan) is going to be a really interesting match,” Payne said. “They’ve had our number the last couple of years. But we’ve got to settle down, put the significance of the situation to the side and just play our game.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @colincapece 

Related Stories:

Men’s Soccer: Defensive lapses in first half send No. 21 Northwestern to 2-1 loss against No. 20 Michigan State

Men’s Soccer: What to Watch For: No. 21 Northwestern looks to reclaim sole possession of first place in Big Ten standings against No. 20 Michigan State

Men’s Soccer: No. 12 Northwestern suffers first defeat of season, falls to Penn State 2-1

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