Sept. 6, 2006
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Friday, Sept. 8, 2:15 p.m. CT
Northwestern (3-1) vs. Bradley (1-2-1)
Sunday, Sept. 10, 11 a.m. CT
Northwestern vs. Drake (3-1)
Huskie Soccer Complex (2,000)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Coming off a 1-1 West Coast road trip, Northwestern (3-1) will stay a little closer to home this time around when they head to DeKalb, Ill. to take part in the Adidas/Baymont Inn Invitational on the campus of Northern Illinois. The 'Cats will play Bradley at 2:15 p.m. CT Friday before facing Drake at 11 a.m. Sunday morning. Both games are at the Huskie Soccer Complex.
Quoting Coach Lenahan
"For the third weekend in a row, we play two very good teams. Bradley has been a regular in the NCAA Tournament, including last year, for some time now. They have a number of former players now playing the MLS. They are always well coached, play with emotion and come ready to play. Drake is off to a great start and is knocking on the door of being a top 25 team. It will be a challenging weekend, but I expect us to be ready for the challenge.
"Since this is the last non-conference weekend before we start Big Ten play on September 17, it is
important for us to continue to get better and grow as a team. This past weekend was a good learning experience for us in that we realize we need to show up and compete in every game to be successful."
The Bradley Braves, the 2005 Missouri Valley Conference Champions and three-time NCAA Tournament participant, are 1-2-1 on the young season. After opening the season with a 3-0 win over St. Francis (Pa.), they have lost two of three, battling Duquesne to a 1-1 tie before falling on the road at Cincinnati and UIC, both one-goal defeats. They are led offensively by Chris Cutshaw who has two goals and nine shots on the season. Three other Braves have one goal each. Goalkeeper Mike Haynes has played every minute between the pipes, recording 17 saves and allowing five goals. They are coached by Jim DeRose who is in his 11th season at Bradley.
The Bulldogs, also of the MVC, are 3-1 entering the weekend and are coming off a 2-1 double-overtime loss at Tulsa on Sept. 3 after winning their first three games of the season. Junior midfielder Keith Gorczyca and freshman midfielder Kevin Shrout lead Drake with two goals each while four others each have one goal. Junior goalkeeper Phillip Breuer has played a majority of the minutes in goal, allowing just two goals and recording 10 saves to compliment two shutouts. Sean Holmes is in his ninth season as the head coach of the Bulldogs.
Noting the Wildcats
The Wildcats went 1-1 over the weekend at the UC Irvine College Classic, falling on Saturday night to 18th-ranked Santa Clara before rebounding with a 2-1 win over tournament host UC Irvine on Labor Day. In the loss to the Broncos, shots were hard to come by as the 'Cats registered just one on goal. But the purple and white rebounded two days later with a come-from-behind win over the Anteaters. For the second time this season, Northwestern fought back from a 1-0 deficit to earn a 2-1 victory. Second half goals by Daniel Chille and freshman Eamon O'Neill powered the Wildcats to the win. O'Neill also picked up an assist on Chille's goal for the first points of his career. Justin Pines (1-0) picked up the win in goal, holding the Anteaters scoreless in the final 45 minutes.
NU, 3-1 entering the weekend, is looking to improve upon its best start in two years. Northwestern's best start over the last six seasons was in 2004 when the Wildcats started 6-1-1 on their way to the program's first NCAA Tournament bid.
After going 1-1 over the weekend, the Wildcats are one spot out of the latest College Soccer News Top 30 poll. They are the first team receiving votes and are ahead of Penn State and Ohio State as the only other two conference teams receiving votes. Indiana is the only Big Ten team ranked at No. 9.
Freshman Eamon O'Neill registered the first points of his career in the win over UC Irvine on Sept. 4. The Wilmington, Del. native first assisted on Daniel Chille's second half goal to tie the game and later scored the game-winner unassisted to give the Wildcats the victory.
Senior goalkeeper Justin Pines saw his first action of the season when he was inserted at halftime of the UC Irvine game. Pines, who picked up his first win since the 2004 season after sitting out last year with an injury, made four saves and held the Anteaters scoreless as the Wildcats came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit.
The Wildcats finished second overall at the UCI College Classic with Eamon O'Neill, Daniel Chille and Will Nicholas named to the all-tournament team.
Sophomore Will Briley won the starting goalkeeper job in the preseason and is 2-1 on the young season with 13 saves and one shutout. Briley, who has four career shutouts, shared time in goal last season with Misha Rosenthal and earned all-Big Ten freshman team honors. He was replaced by senior Justin Pines at halftime of the UC Irvine game this season, the only other Wildcat keeper to see action so far this year.
David Roth played a key role in each of Northwestern's two opening wins. In the win over Hofstra, Roth served up a beautiful assist that led to the game-winning goal with less than 10 minutes to play. Then in the win over Dayton, he scored his first goal since the 2004 season when his game-winning tally from the left wing gave Northwestern a 1-0 win over Dayton--snapping a 19-game scoreless streak.
Freshman Mark Blades established himself early and often in the Wildcat backline tin the opening weekend of the season and in the process, picked up Lakeside Classic MVP honors. Blades' quickness, speed and athleticism in the back smothered the opposition's attack throughout both games. A Lakewood, Ohio native, Blades was the 2005 Ohio Player of the Year for Cleveland-St. Ignatius.
No push-overs on this year's schedule. Twelve of the 17 teams on the regular-season slate finished last season with a winning record, with six of those teams advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
Head coach Tim Lenahan has Northwestern's men's soccer program on the rise. The Wildcats are coming off two of the most successful seasons in program history, going a program-best 15-6-2 in 2004--which included the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament--before turning in another winning season last year (9-7-2) despite a lot of youth and injuries. The Wildcats are 3-1 so far this season, giving Lenahan a combined 27-14-4 record over the last two-plus seasons.
Tim Lenahan's 2006 freshman class has been ranked the 21st best recruiting class in the country according to collegesoccernews.com. In addition, two of those incoming freshmen, Eamon O'Neill and Mark Blades, have been named among the "top 100 freshmen to keep and eye on" this season. Indiana was the only other Big Ten school ranked above Northwestern. O'Neill and Blades, both highly recruited NSCAA high school all-Americans, are part of a very talented six-member incoming class. Blades, a Lakewood, Ohio native who led his high school to two state championships, was named the 2005 Ohio Player of the Year after recording 17 career goals and 41 assists. O'Neill hails from Wilmington, Del. where he took his Salesianum High School team to three state championships, recording 69 career goals and 64 assists and was named the Delaware Player of the Year in recognition of his outstanding efforts.
The Wildcats were hit hard with injuries last season, losing starting goalkeeper Justin Pines at the beginning of the season, all-Big Ten forward Gerardo Alvarez for a good part of the season and starting midfielder Will Nicholas who played in only three games. All are back this season, healthy and ready to lead Northwestern to a run at the Big Ten championship.
The Wildcats open the Big Ten season at home next Sunday, Sept. 17 when they play host to Ohio State at the Leonard B. Thomas Athletic Complex in Evanston. Game time is 3 p.m. CT.