After a long-awaited soccer season for both Northwestern soccer teams, the Wildcats took the field for their home openers. For the first time in history, the teams played at Wilson Field inside the illustrious Ryan Fieldhouse due to Chicago’s frigid winter temperatures.
This year, the Big Ten elected to push back the fall season and play only conference games. The men’s team, which ranked No. 6 in the Big Ten preseason rankings, faced off against preseason No. 4 Michigan on Friday night for their first of 10 games in this shortened season. This season will also mark head coach Tim Lenahan’s 20th and final season at Northwestern.
The ‘Cats took a 1-0 lead, thanks to a goal by true freshman Joseph Arena at the five-minute mark. The first half belonged to Northwestern’s defense, as it didn’t allow the Wolverines any shots on goal. This game marked the first collegiate starts for redshirt first-year defender Deng Deng Kur and first-year Rom Brown and the first Northwestern start for University of the Pacific graduate transfer Spencer Farina.
The celebration: pic.twitter.com/sEWdn3a2BG— Joshua Hoffman (@joshuadhoffman) February 20, 2021
However, in the second half, there seemed to be a lack of chemistry between offense and defense, allowing Michigan to take a 2-1 lead within the first 10 minutes of the second half. Senior goalkeeper Miha Miskovic was able to have four saves, but the Wolverines brought their lead to three and scored on a penalty kick during the 72nd minute for a final score of 4-1.
After finishing 8-8-2 last year with a quarterfinals appearance in the Big Ten tournament, Northwestern men’s soccer will look to bounce back against the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison on Tuesday.
On Saturday night, the women’s team embarked on their 11-game season against Indiana. The ‘Cats came into this season ranked No. 7 in the conference preseason rankings, with the Hoosiers at No. 8.
The two teams battled in a defensively aggressive match. Northwestern’s seasoned junior goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood tallied four saves, and the defensive lineup posted a shutout during this first game.
First-years Ella Hase, Josie Aulicino and Meg Boade saw their first collegiate minutes as well.
Despite outshooting Indiana 4-3, neither team was able to convert into a score. That is, until the 85-minute when Aurea Martin was able to head it in off of a set-piece play, assisted by senior captain Reagan Steigleder and junior Francesca Doctors.
This play marked Martin’s second game-winner and Doctors’ first assist. Senior Nia Harris, sophomore Lily Gilbertson, senior Kylie Fisher and first-year Hase all had shot attempts.
The women’s soccer team will return to play at Wilson Field on Thursday, Feb. 25 against the preseason No. 1 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions.