Wildcats Undefeated in the Big Ten After Buckeye Win

By The Columbia Chronicle

Doug Pitorak, Contributing Writer

The Northwestern University Wildcats men’s soccer team defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 1-0 at Lakeside Field Sunday Oct 14, advancing to 3-0 in Big Ten play and 9-2-2 for the season.

On a day when large gusts of wind made the path of the ball wildly unpredictable, the Wildcats managed to record their fifth shutout of the season, thanks in no small part to the man in the net.

“We were dealing with 20-mile per hour winds and rain at some periods of the game,” said Tyler Miller, sophomore goalkeeper who is fast approaching Northwestern’s record for season and career-long shutouts. “Sometimes it’s difficult to read the ball but you just have to be patient and make sure you make the right move when the ball is there.”

Wildcats Head Coach Tim Lenahan was pleased to see Miller making the right plays.

“His game management is fantastic,” he said. “The one save he was forced to make, he made.”

Lenahan was referring to the 54th minute when Buckeyes freshman forward Louie Berra was left open outside the Wildcats’ six-yard box. With only a fraction of a second to react, Miller stuck his left foot out and deflected the shot. Ohio State never got a better opportunity to score for the rest of the match.

“When we’re in practice we always work on reactions, and I think reactions are a big part of the game,” Miller said. “[Reaction time] can make the difference between a save and [a goal].”

The wind was a factor throughout the game, but the Wildcats rarely misjudged an airborne ball. Fortunately for Northwestern, the Buckeyes were not as crisp on one crucial play.

In the 35th minute, the Wildcats were awarded a free kick near the right sideline approximately 15 yards into their attacking half of the field. Fresh off the bench, sophomore forward Eric Weberman was tasked with crossing the ball into the Buckeyes’ box.

With a little help from Mother Nature, Weberman’s pass sailed over the Buckeyes’ heads, dropping once inside the six-yard-box and firing off the artificial turf straight into the upper left corner of the goal.

“We knew we had the wind, so they just said, ‘play a hard ball in and it would push it in,’ and that’s what I did,” Weberman said of his third goal of the season. “It dropped and got a lucky bounce and went in.”

The Wildcats have nine goal scorers this season, a statistic Lenahan hoped would come true.

“We knew it was going to be that way [because of] losing Oliver [Kupe, last year’s leading scored who left for the MLS], that we were going to be goal-by-committee,” he said. “Coming in we talked about having 10 different players score goals before the year was up, and we still have five games plus the tournament to make that happen.”

The next opportunity for a new scorer to emerge for the Wildcats will be Oct. 17, as they break from conference play and travel just down the road to challenge a familiar foe: Loyola University.