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Northwestern men's soccer takes down Notre Dame in upset

by Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)

Player of the game: Sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Miller grabbed six saves and allowed only one goal against the No. 17 offense in the country, as Northwestern dominated No. 7 Notre Dame for the 2-1 upset. The Fighting Irish had scored 26 goals in 12 games this season coming into Tuesday’s match, but couldn’t find the back of the net until the 85th minute on Tuesday.  Miller covered every inch of the net, at one point using his 6’4” frame to snatch one down from just under the cross bar, then diving down a few minutes later to save a bullet from his knees. “He’s got great game management,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “You just always feel comfortable with him here, especially with flighted balls in the box and with that wind playing havoc we just kind of hung on a little bit and he did a great job doing that.”

Game-changer: Freshman forward Joey Calistri scored the first goal of the game before 15 minutes had passed since kickoff, giving Northwestern the early 1-0 lead. For a team that had only scored four goals in the first half all season, this early momentum was huge. “It’s big to get Joe scoring again,” Lenahan said. “He’s a freshman and usually they hit a little bit of a grind 10 or 11 games in so for him to get the goal too, yeah it was a big goal. It showed that we could get chances against this team and we did.”

Stat of the game: The Wildcats are now 8-0 when they score at least two goals. They have scored at least two goals in all of their wins this season.

Dominating the Irish: In the last four years, NU is 2-0-2 against Notre Dame. Both of the wins came in the NCAA Tournament, in 2008 and 2009. “Basically every time we play Notre Dame they always let us play,” junior midfielder Lepe Seetane said. Their last loss to the Fighting Irish was in 2000.

What it means: NU (8-2-2, 2-0-0 Big Ten) rebounded in the biggest way possible from a major letdown against Bradley last Wednesday. The Cats, who dropped out of the NCAA rankings after that loss, will likely jump right back in with their first win over a top 10 team since 2008. It also keeps them one game behind Indiana (9-2-1, 3-0-0), who beat Wisconsin 2-0 Saturday, for the Big Ten lead. “It’s definitely a confidence boost after a couple of rough games we had against DePaul and Bradley,” Calistri said, “but we still know we’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ve got a long road ahead of us until we can get where we want to be but it’s a good step in the right direction.”

What’s Next: The Cats return to Big Ten play when they welcome Ohio State (4-7-1, 0-3-0) to Lakeside Field on Sunday. “Big Ten time, it’s a whole different story,” Seetane, who also scored a goal Tuesday, said. “This was fun but when it comes to Big Ten time we know we have to grind it out every game, especially Ohio State. They’re always tough.”