April 1, 2005
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Fresh off a trip to Spain during spring break, the Northwestern men's soccer team will run up against a gauntlet of top Stateside college competition during the spring season as they look to add another historic chapter in 2005.
With all 11 starters returning and all but two players coming back, NU head coach Tim Lenahan's goal is to fully prepare the `Cats for the upcoming campaign.
"Obviously, with all our starters and 21 letterwinners returning, we want to challenge our team as much as we can," said Lenahan. "All in all, we have put together a very difficult schedule that should give us an indication of whether or not the ambitions of our program are ready to be met."
The spring campaign begins Saturday, April 2, when the `Cats travel to Kenosha, Wis., for a play day at Wisconsin-Parkside. NU will face its Division II hosts at 10 a.m., followed by Marquette at 11:30. Although UW-Parkside is a Division II team, the Rangers should provide some stiff competition -- they went 13-4-3 last season and advanced to the NCAA Division II regional championship match last fall.
The following week, Northwestern returns to the site where they ended their historic 2004 run, Creighton -- the Blue Jays and Wildcats met in the second round of last year's NCAA Championship, with Creighton winning 3-2. The Jays finished last fall with a 14-4-2 record.
On Saturday, April 16, the `Cats head to Notre Dame for the Fighting Irish's play day. NU will meet the Irish -- a perennial Top-10 team -- at noon, followed by Northern Illinois at 1:30 and Oakland at 3. Notre Dame went 13-3-3 last year and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship; Northern finished last fall with a 12-7-0 record and was third in the Mid-American Conference; Oakland was 11-5-3 in 2004 and advanced to the Mid-Continent Conference semifinals.
The spring intercollegiate season ends two weeks later, on April 30, when the Wildcats take on Bradley and Western Ilinois at Morton McClellan Park in Morton, Ill. The Braves are a perennial regional power out of the Missouri Valley Conference and went 10-6-3 last fall, while Wildcat fans might remember the Leathernecks as being NU's first-round opponent in last year's NCAA Championship -- the `Cats won the match in Evanston, 4-1.
"Marquette struggled somewhat last year, but they are a very good team, and Wisconsin-Parkside is a top Division II team," said Lenahan. "Northern Illinois is one of the most improved teams in the country. Western Illinois provided a great contest for us twice last year as they won the Mid-Con and went to the NCAA Tournament.
"In Notre Dame and Creighton, you have two perennial powers who started and ended our season last fall, respectively," he continued. "It will be great to see where we have come in relations to those meetings. We wrap up with Bradley, which has consistently been a power in the Missouri Valley Conference the last seven years."
The spring season will conclude with the Alumni Game on Saturday, May 7. "The alumni game will cap off the spring with a fun and festive day playing against former NU players," said Lenahan.
The Wildcats' 2005 spring schedule is below.
Saturday, April 2 -- UW-Parkside Play Day (Kenosha, Wis.)
Wisconsin-Parkside, 10 a.m.
Marquette, 11:30 a.m.
Sunday, April 10
at Creighton, 1 p.m.
Saturday, April 16 -- Notre Dame Play Day (South Bend, Ind.)
Notre Dame, Noon
Northern Illinois, 1:30 p.m.
Oakland, 3 p.m.
Saturday, April 30 -- at Morton McClellan Park (Morton, Ill.)
Bradley, 1 p.m.
Western Illinois, 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 7
Alumni Game, 10 a.m.