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Men's soccer: What You've Missed and What's Ahead

by Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)

2012 Season so far:        

The Northwestern men’s soccer team has followed up its 2011 Big Ten Championship title with an impressive start to the 2012 season, despite losing to DePaul Wednesday. The Cats are off to a 6-1-2 start and were ranked 18th in the latest NSCAA Coaches poll, second in the Big Ten behind No. 11 Indiana.

NU started the regular season with a two-overtime, 1-1 tie against No. 9 Xavier. They won the NIU Tournament with wins over Drake University and Rhode Island, then came home to win the Lakeside Classic with victories over Iona and Milwaukee.

The Cats won their first conference game, a 2-0 victory over Michigan.

Wednesday’s game, by the numbers:

6: No. 6 for DePaul, senior midfielder Antonio Aguilar, scored two goals for the Blue Demons to beat the Wildcats, 2-0. “Their big player made two big plays,” Northwestern coach Tim Lenahan said. “He’s scored four or five big goals against us in the last few years and I’m glad he’s a senior.”

17: It has been 17 games since the Cats last lost a regular season game, that one a 4-0 defeat also at the hands of DePaul. “I don’t think we had the usual energy that we’ve had that last few games and there’s a reason we went undefeated for a year,” Lenahan said. “For the last (17) games we weren’t flat.”

36: The two teams combined for 36 fouls in a game that got chippier by the minute. Four yellow cards were handed out, including one to NU associate head coach Neil Jones.

Looking forward—three games to watch:

Sunday, September 30: The Cats head to East Lansing to take on Michigan State this Sunday. They will have to rebound from their first regular season loss in nearly a year. The Spartans (3-5-1) will be going on nine days rest after taking a 2-1 victory over Western Michigan last Friday.

Tuesday, October 9: Northwestern will welcome Notre Dame to Lakeside Fields. The Fighting Irish are currently the highest ranked opponent the Cats will play this year, coming in at No. 8 in the most recent Coaches poll.

Thursday, November 1: The Cats play the only other ranked Big Ten team, Indiana, in the last game of the regular season—a game that could decide the Big Ten Champion.