Men’s Soccer: Recharged Huskies win at home

Men’s Soccer: Recharged Huskies win at home

By Matt Nielsen

As the calendar pages turned to October, the leaves aren’t the only things changing at Parsons Field.

The Northeastern men’s soccer team’s (5-9-2, 3-4-1) fortunes have changed dramatically this month. Through September, the Huskies were 2-8-1 (0-3-0 Colonial Athletic Association) and appeared to be on life support. Since then, Northeastern is 3-1-1, all in conference play, including two wins this weekend at home against Virginia Commonwealth (4-11-0, 2-6-0) and James Madison (8-4-2, 3-3-2), reviving their hopes for post-season play.

Friday’s game was a must-win for the Huskies to keep their postseason hopes alive, but neither squad showed much urgency during the first half. Both teams looked lethargic, settling for keeping the ball at midfield, with little offensive penetration by either side. The first frame came to an end before either goalkeeper had made a save.

The Huskies were noticeably charged up to start the second half, pressuring the Rams’ defense as soon as the whistle blew. Finally, at 67:10, freshman midfielder Alex Volk put Northeastern on the board, beating VCU’s keeper one-on-one with assists from seniors Daryl Brack and Brian Koslosky.

“Brack got the ball to me and I looked over at the ref to see if it was off sides,” Volk said. “It wasn’t, so I just got past the keeper and put it in.”

Brack’s assist was his second career point, and Koslosky’s was his first.

Afterward, the Huskies controlled the pace of the game as they coasted to a 1-0 victory. Freshman keeper Mahmoud Talaat stopped two shots for the shutout.

“During the first half we were reacting to everything they were doing,” head coach Brian Ainscough said. “We had Kilkenny isolated out there. So at the half we made some adjustments and decided to play the ball toward [junior forward Ahmed Talaat] some more. It opened things up for us.”

The Huskies rode the momentum from their win over VCU into the start of Sunday’s game against the James Madison Dukes. For the fourth time in the last five games, junior forward Greg Kilkenny was the first on the board, scoring approximately 10 minutes into the contest. Sunday was Senior Day for the Huskies, and the assist appropriately went to Brack, his second of the weekend.

JMU boasted the CAA’s leading scorer coming into Sunday’s game, senior midfielder Kurt Morinsk. However, Morinsk was shut down by tight defense from freshman Brendan Ennis, and barely factored into the contest, except to draw jeers from the energized Senior Day crowd.

The Huskies continued to impress during the second half, keeping the Dukes at bay while racking up scoring chances. When the Dukes found themselves near the Northeastern net, they were discouraged by acrobatic saves from CAA Rookie of the Week Talaat. At 62:39, Talaat came out of the net to make a jumping save. While in the air, his feet were knocked out from under him, causing him to flip over and land on his head and neck. Talaat was down for some time, but played a few minutes more before leaving with a concussion. Talaat will join senior defenseman Matt Handy and freshman defenseman Neal Peterson on the sideline with injuries, at least until Sunday. Volk and freshman defenseman/midfielder Matthew Laning also went to the bench with injuries Sunday, but eventually returned to the field. Freshman Joe Monthey replaced Talaat in goal.

Northeastern put JMU away in the 88th minute when Laning headed a ball high and over the JMU keeper, who had come out to challenge the feed from Brack. The ball bounced uncontested into the net to put the Huskies up 2-0. After scoring one point in his first three years at NU, Brack assisted on three goals this weekend.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Brack said of his sudden scoring success. “It’s my senior year, and I’m finally scoring some points.”

The Huskies’ sharp play has pushed them into seventh place in the CAA, just one position behind the final playoff spot with three games left.

“If we can keep some bodies on the field and stay hot, we have a chance at the playoffs,” Ainscough said.

The Huskies will host CAA rival Delaware (5-6-2, 3-5-0) at Parsons Field Friday at 6 p.m.

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