May 24, 2004
EVANSTON, Ill. -
With a 7-3 record -- including a 5-1 mark vs. Division I competition -- the Northwestern University men's soccer program continued its steady progression toward the top level of college soccer teams this spring. The Wildcats recorded wins over Marquette, UW-Milwaukee, DePaul, Western Illinois, Valparaiso and Wisconsin-Parkside, as well as the NU Alumni; in the process, they scored 21 goals while surrendering 12.
The Wildcats started the spring off after a three-week layoff from reading week, finals and spring break with a wild 4-3 loss to perennial national power Bradley. However, the 'Cats bounced back the following week by sweeping Marquette, UWM and DePaul in the one-day Marquette Spring Classic. Gerardo Alvarez, Kevin Earnest and Derek Schneider all scored match-winners as the NU emerged as the only undefeated team on the day thanks to three one-goal victories.
A 3-0 midweek setback against the Milwaukee Wave of the professional A-League was followed by convincing wins vs. Western Illinois and UW-Parkside, as freshman Will Nicholas led the way with a three-goal day. The following weekend, NU defeated Valparaiso to end its competition against Division I opponents, but dropped a 1-0 loss to the University of Chicago as head coach Tim Lenahan played mostly reserves in the second match of the three-team event.
The Wildcats wrapped up the spring with a convincing 3-0 win over the NU Alumni on May 8.
"Other than the loss to Bradley in the spring opener after a three-week layoff , I thought we competed and played very well," said Lenahan. "Our level of play over the past two springs has increased significantly. To get results against Division I opponents is never taken for granted, and certainly the guys have really raised the standard around here. The wins vs. Marquette, UW-Milwaukee and DePaul were especially satisfying, since we have been on the other side of the scoreboard against those teams in past seasons."
One of the highlights of the spring was the continued outstanding play of Alvarez; last year's Big Ten Co-Freshman of the year and second-team All-Big Ten selection led the 'Cats in scoring with four goals and four assists for 12 points. Earnest, a sophomore, was right on Alvarez' tail with four goals and three assists for 11 points, while Nicholas continued his knack for finding the net with four goals and an assist for nine points.
"Gerardo, Will and Kevin all did a great job this spring of getting forward and scoring goals," said Lenahan. "I thought that Alexander Renzi did a great job of distributing the ball for us, and Kyle Moore and Brad North both really came on this spring and should find significantly more playing time next year.
"We still have to be a little sharper defensively and in the goal if we are going to continue this climb to becoming a good college soccer team," he concluded. "However, I was very happy with the team's effort, attitude and performance throughout the spring. They really enjoy being around each other, and that in turn makes them a great group to coach."
2004 Spring Results
4/3 -- Bradley (L, 3-4 -- Earnest, Napper, Nicholas)
4/17 -- Marquette (W, 1-0 -- Alvarez)
4/17 -- UW-Milwaukee (W, 1-0 -- Earnest)
4/17 -- DePaul (W, 2-1 -- Grob, Schneider)
4/21 -- Milwaukee Wave (A League) -- L, 0-3
4/25 -- Western Illinois (W, 5-2 -- Earnest, Napper, Nicholas, Alvarez, Sirois)
4/25 -- UW-Parkside (W, 4-1 -- Nicholas (2), North, Schneider)
5/1 -- Valparaiso (W, 2-1 -- North, Alvarez)
5/1 -- University of Chicago (L, 0-1)
5/8 -- NU Alumni (W, 3-0 -- Earnest, Alvarez, Chille)