After a solid start to the season, the ‘Cats faced three non-conference foes in the past week, emerging with mixed results.
The first of the three contests was a Labor Day clash with Missouri-Kansas City, which also happened to be NU’s home opener. UMKC entered the match with an 0-2 record, although both of their losses were against Top 25 opposition. The Roos showed their quality early, creating a couple of dangerous chances on the counter before finding the breakthrough in the 26th minute.
Although being down 1-0 was a setback, it certainly didn’t demoralize the ‘Cats, as they got right back into the game just a few minutes later through some quick thinking on a free kick by Rom Brown. The Israeli midfielder spotted Richie Bennett running in behind the UMKC defense, who then fired the ball across the face of the goal for Bardia Kimiavi to tap into an empty net.
After the 1-1 scoreline held until the break, Northwestern’s attack came out in the second half guns blazing. Justin Weiss scored his first of the season in the 47th minute off of a rebound from a Paul Son shot, and the goals didn’t stop there. A pass from Jose Del Valle in the 53rd minute sent Weiss down a wide open right wing, and he spotted Son unmarked at the edge of the box. The first-year winger then calmly dribbled past the UMKC keeper and slotted home NU’s third on the day, the first of his collegiate career.
Neither Northwestern or Son were done there, and in the 86th minute, Son found himself in a very similar position, and scored a very similar goal to cap off a remarkable performance and comeback for the ‘Cats.
Next up for NU was a home midweek showdown against Utah Valley. The Wolverines entered the game undefeated, with wins over Niagara and California State University, Northridge, and a draw against Canisius. The game followed a very similar path as NU’s match with UIC earlier in the season, with neither side really overcoming the other. The two teams combined for 15 total shots in 110 minutes of play, only three of which were on target and none of which found the back of the net. One positive from what was an otherwise relatively dull affair was the fact Northwestern picked up its third shutout of the season in just five games, showing the defensive stability being established under a new manager.
To finish off the week, the ‘Cats then traveled to Cincinnati to face off against Big East opponent Xavier. The Musketeers had won four of their first five games to start the year, including a 1-0 win over Chicago State, and their single loss was against Indiana, arguably the best team in the country. NU put up an extremely good fight, outshooting Xavier 10-9 and gaining 8 corner kicks to Xavier’s 3, but they couldn’t find the decisive goal. Then, much like their opening game of the season against Chicago State, Northwestern was their own undoing, and an individual defensive mistake in the 88th minute cost them a chance at overtime.
Hopefully for the ‘Cats, just like they did after the Chicago State match, they’ll rebound and rattle off another good run of results. They’ll face Big Ten sides in their next three matches, so they’ll have to get going quickly if they want to compete.
NU now has some time to rest and recover before their one game this week, a contest this Friday at Penn State.