Men’s soccer drops two

Men’s soccer drops two
Fourth-year forward Harry Swartz starred against the University of Delaware. Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics.

Following a week that saw the Northeastern University men’s soccer team sitting atop the Colonial Athletic Conference (CAA) the Huskies faced their first real speed bump in the young campaign, dropping two matches within the week. Off the heels of their overtime win against the College of Charleston, the Huskies traveled west to take on the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, on Sept. 20.

Coach Chris Gbandi put out an almost entirely new starting lineup for the out-of-conference game, with midfielder Dom Galetti, defender Cameron Okoro and midfielder Griffin Sabatini all making their first career starts at Northeastern as first-years. First-year goalkeeper Noah Abrams also made his Husky debut, replacing fourth-year keeper Jonathan Thuresson in the 77th minute. The eagerness to prove themselves saw the Huskies start brightly, however their efforts produced nothing on the scoreboard.

After sustaining early pressure from Northeastern, Holy Cross found the back of the net on midfielder Sean Merrick’s strike in the 20th minute of play. The match would be whistled for halftime with the score remaining 1-0 in favor of the Crusaders.

Eight minutes into the second half, Holy Cross struck again, with forward Arno Rupp converting from 20 yards out. The Huskies were unable to get their feet under them and sustain the pressure they applied in the early stages of the match, eventually dropping the midweek contest by a final score of 3-0. Though the result didn’t go the Huskies way, Thuresson appreciated the effort from his team defensively.

“I think we defend well as a unit, and even though the scoreline might not have shown that, we’ve been solid defensively all year,” Thuresson said. “We can build off that, but ultimately to win games you have to score goals.”

Saturday night was Alumni Night at Parsons Field, with Northeastern welcoming back alumni players as they took on the University of Delaware Blue Hens in a CAA matchup.

The Huskies returned with the majority of their regular starting lineup after altering it midweek, looking to get back on track and keep their place atop the conference standings. Fourth-year forward Harry Swartz applied the pressure early on, testing the Blue Hens goalkeeper with a fourth-minute shot on goal. The rest of the first half played out evenly, with both sides controlling and moving the ball well, creating opportunities on both sides of the pitch.

The early stages of the second half played out just as the first did, as the two CAA foes continued to press to find the opening tally.

Ten minutes into the second stanza, third-year defender Moustapha Samb picked up a yellow card for a challenge on a Delaware forward. A minute later, Samb drew his second yellow card for another dangerous tackle, earning a red card and an early exit from the match. On the free kick given for Samb’s foul, the Blue Hens would break through, with Halvard Ramstad heading past Thuresson.

Despite Samb’s red card and the goal immediately after it, the Huskies fought valiantly with ten men on the field. The Blue Hens tested the Huskies for a few minutes after the goal, however Northeastern proved to be resilient. Gbandi noted that his team continued to play well even after losing Samb.

“We actually had our two best chances with a man down,” Gbandi said.

Those two chances came off the boots of Swartz and first-year forward Dan Munch, with Swartz flashing a shot just wide of the post and Munch ringing the cross bar with two minutes to go in the match. However, the ball didn’t seem to bounce Northeastern’s way, as the Huskies dropped their first conference match of the season. Despite the frustrating loss, Gbandi praised his teams fight and desire to win.

“We have a good group, we don’t really have anybody who takes a day off,” Gbandi said. “Guys worked hard even when we were a man down. Nobody gave up.”

Thuresson also appreciated the effort from his teammates in front of him.

“When you get a red card and concede a goal like that, it’s easy to hang your head and feel sorry for yourself,” Thuresson said. “But I think we kept our pride and fought really well.”

The Huskies will look to bounce back with two road conference games this week, with matches against Hofstra and Drexel looming. Despite the strong effort from the Huskies in their recent games, they will look for some tangible results.

“Ultimately, we have to find a way to win,” Gbandi said.

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