Site: DeKalb, Ill. (NIU Soccer Complex)
Score: Northwestern 3, Rhode Island 2
Records: NU (3-0-2, 0-0-0 Big Ten), Rhode Island (0-3-2, 0-0-0 A-10)
Next NU Event: Friday, Sept. 14 vs. Iona • 7:30 p.m. CT • Evanston, Ill.
DeKALB, Ill. -- Northwestern remained unbeaten on the season and clinched the championship of the NIU adidas Invite by taking care of business with a 3-2 victory over Rhode Island Sunday afternoon in DeKalb. Freshman Joey Calistri broke a 1-1 tie with a goal just after halftime and also came up with the eventual game-winner in the 67th minute to lift the 'Cats past the Rams.
At the conclusion of the tournament, NU senior midfielder Chris Ritter -- who notched a game-winning tally in overtime Friday night and two assists on Sunday -- was tabbed as MVP of the NIU Invite and was joined on the All-Tournament team by Calistri, junior defender Scott Lakin and sophomore defender Grant Wilson.
“I thought we played really well in the first half and did a lot of good things in terms of creating good chances,” Northwestern head coach Tim Lenahan
said. “I thought we maybe could have scored more than one goal (in the first half) and the way that soccer is, the other team’s pretty good as well, they came back to get a late one in the first half so you’re just even for all of your work. We came out in the second half, put a couple away and made things a little more interesting maybe than they should have been, but in in the beginning of the year, it’s about grinding out results and we were able to grind one out today. It was great to win the championship at the NIU Invite, since that’s always one of our goals. We are looking forward to heading back home for the next two games here and see if we can again continue to grow as a team.”
As they did Friday against Drake, the Wildcats struck first against Rhode Island Friday. In the 15th minute, sophomore midfielder Eric Weberman got on the end of a loose ball in the box and volleyed it past Rhode Island goalkeeper Thomas Spenser for his first career goal.
Northwestern would protect that 1-0 lead until the closing minutes of the first half, when URI's Andrew Tetzlaff won a second ball in the penalty area following a service from the right sideline, sliding it past NU goalkeeper Tyler Miller.
But only 90 seconds into the second half, Calistri restored a Northwestern advantage when he received a pass from Ritter in the box and one-timed it by Spenser from six yards out. Twenty minutes later, Calistri and Ritter connected once again with some crafty play in the 18-yard box to give the Wildcats a two-goal cushion.
Rhode Island kept the pressure on the Wildcats down the stretch, earning five second-half corners and eventually finding its second goal with 12 minutes remaining in regulation. But Lakin, Miller and the Northwestern defense helped NU avoid a fifth straight overtime game to start the season and withstood 90 minutes worth of physical play; URI was whistled for nine second-half fouls and booked for three yellow cards compared to none for Northwestern.
Miller finished with three saves for the Wildcats, with all three coming in the second half.
The Wildcats bring their unbeaten 3-0-2 record into the upcoming Lakeside Classic on their home field. Northwestern is set to face Iona at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Milwaukee at 2 p.m. Sunday.
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