by Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)
Player of the game: If not for Northern Illinois goalkeeper Jordan Godsey, Northwestern would have had this game well in hand with 30 minutes left in the game. The senior made a save with nine minutes left in the first half in which he had to dive to the ground and quickly jump back up twice before securing the ball. He topped that with 29 minutes left in the second half, diving no less than three times in a five-second period to keep the Wildcats off the board. “He had a great game,” freshman forward Joey Calistri said. “I’ve got to give him credit, he had a great game. But we didn’t make it as hard as we should have on him.” Northwestern had its chances, but NIU midfielder Charlie Oliver found the back of the net 45 seconds into overtime for the 1-0 Huskies win.
Game-changer: NU senior midfielder/forward Nick Gendron hit an absolute rocket with one second left in regulation that missed the goal by inches. For the second straight game, the Cats missed a potential game-winning shot in the final seconds, resulting in yet another overtime game, and the second straight overtime loss, for the Cats. This missed shot was emblematic of the entire game, in which NU had numerous opportunities in front of the goal but failed to convert any of them. “You gotta make plays,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “Making plays is not necessarily just shooting and scoring. It’s being able to compete passes, being able to get on the ends of kicks or set pieces, running the proper set pieces. In the last two games we haven’t made plays. If we don’t start making plays—I hate to be Negative Nellie because I’m usually pretty positive—(but) our season’s over two weeks from today.”
Stat of the game: The game-winning goal for the Huskies was their first shot on goal in the game. Before the game-winner, the NU defense had limited them to long-distance shots that never really threatened to see the back of the net.
Following the trend: The 1-0 NIU victory continued a four-year trend in the in-state rivalry. In the last four meetings between these two teams, the losing squad failed to score a goal. Northwestern won 1-0 in 2008, 1-0 in 2009, and 2-0 in 2011. The Huskies won in 2010, 2-0.
What it means: NU (10-4-2, 3-1-0 Big Ten) fell a game behind Indiana (11-3-2, 3-1-0), who won Wednesday night. Indiana moved ahead of Penn State (9-4-2, 3-1-1), who doesn’t play until Sunday, for first place in the conference. The Cats fell to third place.
What’s next: NU will finish its season with two Big Ten road games, the first coming Sunday at Wisconsin (5-7-3, 1-3-0). “We’ve got two games in front of us on the road,” Lenahan said, “where not only should you have courage, you have to, otherwise you won’t survive. This is gut-check time.”