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Soccer: Men on a roll, women falter

Tim Lenahan’s squad has scored goals as of late, while Michael Moynihan’s has not.

Bardia Kimiavi and Julian Zighelboim celebrate after a goal.
Northwester Men’s Soccer

Northwestern men’s soccer is feeling pretty good about itself. The Wildcats (4-3), after mustering just one goal in their first four games, have netted seven scores during their current three-game winning streak.

For the women (2-5-1), though, it’s been the opposite. In the midst of a three-game losing streak, they have found the back of the net just once.

Since our last update, the men’s team followed up two shutout losses with tight wins over Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois, and then their by far biggest victory to date on the road at defending National Champion no. 25 Maryland to open conference play.

Bardia Kimiavi and Matt Moderwell have led the charge in scoring. Kimiavi paces the team with three goals and eight points, while Moderwell has logged two goals and six points.

Against Western Illinois, Moderwell and Richie Bennett scored within the first 10 minutes, but the ‘Cats quickly ceded their lead by the end of the first half. The defense only allowed two shots in the second half, and they got the win when defender Garrett Opperman converted the go-ahead penalty kick in the 86th minute.

That tightened-up defense was stingy against Eastern Illinois, allowing zero shots on goal. A Kimiavi strike early in the first half was all NU needed.

Then came the true test, on the road in College Park. Suffice it to say, the Wildcats passed with flying colors. Kimiavi opened the scoring early in the game, and it was level early in the second half. In the 65th minute, Moderwell struck on a curving left-footer to give NU a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Ty Seager sealed things in the final minutes with his first goal of the season.

It’s a very encouraging sign to see this offensive outburst, especially against a quality opponent in the Terrapins, for a team that struggled mightily scoring both last year and early this year. Standout goalie Miha Miskovic hasn’t been as busy recently, with the Wildcat defense allowing double-digit shots just once during this winning streak. In the first three contests, they allowed at least 14 shots per game.

NU looks to continue its positive momentum Tuesday at home against UIC.

The women’s team has gone the opposite way of the men and entered a scoring drought. After returning home, the Wildcats played no. 18 Kansas and put all three of their shots on net to no avail. The Jayhawks scored in the 25th minute and never let go of the lead. Sophomore goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood made three saves in the loss.

They had a week to prepare for their Big Ten opener against Illinois in Champaign, but once again struggled to find the back of the net. The Illini struck for the game’s first three goals despite NU outshooting them 11-7 (5-4 on net). Regan Steigleder prevented the game from being a shutout with a penalty kick in the 80th minute.

To provide some context, Illinois is 7-1 with a win over ranked Pepperdine, so a loss isn’t horrible, but the lack of offense is troubling (though not surprising) for a young team about to enter the teeth of B1G play. Michael Moynihan’s team returns to action at Nebraska on Thursday.