Wednesday, Sept. 20, 3 p.m. CT
No. 14 Northwestern (6-1, 1-0 Big Ten)
at DePaul (2-5-2, 1-3 Big East)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 14 Northwestern (6-1, 1-0 Big Ten), winners of four straight, will take its 6-1 record on the road locally at 3 p.m. this Wednesday when it travels a few miles south to tangle with the DePaul Blue Demons (2-5-2, 1-3 Big East) at Wish Field in Chicago. The Wildcats are coming off one of the biggest wins in recent years with their 3-1 win over Ohio State on Sunday while the Blue Demons have lost three straight Big East matches.
DePaul, a member of the Big East conference, is 2-5-2 on the season with a 1-3 league mark. They are in the midst of a three-game skid, which included losses to two top 10 teams in Notre Dame and West Virginia. Alex Mangan has accounted for 80 percent of DePaul's offense this year with four of the team's five goals. Patrick Hopkins has one goal and one assist while John Partyka has two assists for two points. Brian Visser, who has played every minute in goal, has recorded 37 saves to 12 goals allowed.
Noting the Wildcats
The Wildcats are moving up the national ranks. By virtue of their 6-1 start (the best start in program history), the Wildcats are ranked No. 14 in this week's NSCAA/Adidas Top 25 national poll -- their highest ranking ever.
Senior forward Brad North has been named this week's Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week in recognition of his play in the win over Ohio State on Sunday. He also was named to the College Soccer News' National Team of the Week. A first-team all-Big Ten selection last season, North tallied two goals in Northwestern's 3-1 win over Ohio State on Sunday, helping the Wildcats defeat the Buckeyes for the first time in 13 years. Down 1-0 at halftime, North tied the game up six minutes into the second half with his second goal of the season. He then added an insurance goal, his third of the year, later in the half to give the 'Cats the 3-1 win, helping Northwestern win its conference opener for the first time in the coach Lenahan era. North is fifth on NU's all-time career goals list with 22 and sixth with 51 career points.
This bunch likes saving their best for last. Through seven games, the Wildcats have either been behind or tied at the half, only to come away victorious on six of those seven occasions. Twelve goals have been scored by Northwestern this year, with 11 of those coming in the second half. They are 3-0 when tied at the half and 3-1 when trailing.
The Wildcats are among the league leaders in several statistical categories. Northwestern leads the Big Ten in assists (13) and assists per game (1.86), are second in points per game (5.29), goals (12) and goals per game (1.71) and third in fewest goals allowed (6) and goals-against average (0.86). Individually, David Roth is first in total points (12), points per game (1.71), goals (5), goals per game (0.71) and game-winning goals (3). Carl Pett leads the league in assists (4) and assists per game (0.67).
Behind two Brad North goals and another one by David Roth, the Wildcats did something last Sunday they haven't done in 13 years: beat Ohio State. Northwestern defeated the Buckeyes Sunday 3-1 and snapped a 15-match winless streak against the Buckeyes. Once again, the Wildcats came back from a 1-0 deficit at halftime--the third time in the last four games--and won. They regrouped at halftime and didn't take long to tie it up as Carl Pett fed a streaking North who fired it past OSU's keeper into the right side of the net six minutes into the half. Five minutes later, Pett fed Roth in a similar fashion, as Roth took the pass and shook his way past OSU's keeper who was charging on the play, and tapped it in for the easy goal and the 2-1 lead. Then in the 63rd minute, Northwestern added an insurance goal when North tallied his second goal of the day with an assist from Eamon O'Neill. North is second on the team with three goals and one assist for seven points.
Junior midfielder David Roth was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week Sept. 11. It was the first honor of Roth's career and the first for the Wildcats this season. Roth scored three goals to help the Wildcats go 2-0 and clinch the championship of the Adidas/Baymont Inn Invitational. Roth tallied both Northwestern goals in the 2-0 win over Bradley before scoring his third goal of the weekend against Drake in the second half to tie the game at 1-1. Roth scored the game-winner in the win over Ohio State Sept. 17 and leads the Wildcats with five goals and 12 total points.
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.
Sophomore midfielder Carl Pett leads Northwestern in assists this season and assisted on the game-tying and game-winning goals in the win over Ohio State on Sept. 17. He is tied for first in the league with four dishes and is tops in the Big Ten with 0.67 assists per game.
Sophomore Will Briley won the starting goalkeeper job in the preseason and is 4-1 on the young season with 22 saves and two shutouts. Briley, who has five career shutouts, shared time in goal last season with Misha Rosenthal and earned all-Big Ten freshman team honors.
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. Pines then played the entire second half in the win over Drake, holding them scoreless as Northwestern again came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit.
Freshman Mark Blades established himself early and often in the Wildcat backline in 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.
There are 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 6-1 so far this season, giving Lenahan a combined 30-14-4 record over the last two-plus years.
Tim Lenahan's 2006 freshman class was 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 return to action at home next Sunday when they welcome Penn State at 12:30 p.m.