Men’s soccer fights through extra time against Harvard, Charleston

Adama Kaba sends the ball flying down the pitch during Saturday's 1-0 defeat of Charleston. Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics
Adama Kaba sends the ball flying down the pitch during Saturday's 1-0 defeat of Charleston. Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics

Looking to carry the momentum from their upset win over the University of Massachusetts Lowell last Saturday night, Northeastern men’s soccer faced a true test of their fitness, with both games of the week needing extra time to decide an outcome.

On Sept. 13 at Harvard University’s Jordan Field, 110 minutes could not separate the two crosstown foes, with the match ending 1-1 for the Huskies’ first draw of the season.

An exciting opening 25 minutes saw a goal from each team, with junior defender Moustapha Samb recording his first career goal to level the tie. Freshman forward Dan Munch would provide the assist for Samb’s strike, his first point for Northeastern. The two sides would fight and claw for another 85 minutes, however no separation was found despite a total of 45 shots between the two teams.

Saturday night was Community Night at Brookline’s Parsons Field as the Huskies opened up conference play against the College of Charleston Cougars.

Both teams came out aggressive in the opening 45 minutes, with players from both sides full of energy. However, the game never opened up, with neither of the two Colonial Athletic Conference (CAA) rivals able to create any sort of momentum or hold any continuous possession. The Huskies would have four shots in the opening frame to Charleston’s eight, though none would really test either team’s goalkeeper.

The lingering effects from Wednesday’s marathon had an evident impact on the Huskies’ stamina.

“I just think we didn’t have our legs, and it’s not really an excuse but guys are usually flying around,” head coach Chris Gbandi said.

This statement would become apparent in the second half, as Northeastern would have zero shot attempts on goal. Charleston controlled much of the play in the second frame, recording six shots and holding their fair share of possession. The Huskies held strong, however, with senior goalkeeper Jonathan Thurresson keeping his backline together and willing his team to continue to battle.

Charleston would create two golden opportunities in the final ten minutes of the match, however neither would materialize into a shot on goal that tested Thurresson. Heading into overtime for the second time in four days, the Huskies appeared to have their backs against the wall facing the constant pressure from Charleston.

“[The message was to] keep the ball, as we were defending there at the end for a long time,” Gbandi said.

The Huskies would certainly take the message from their leader, as they wouldn’t give the ball up from the whistle that began extra time until redshirt junior forward and Needham native Harry Swartz’ header 30 seconds into the first extra time period hit the back of the net.

Shortly after the whistle, Thurresson received the ball in his own box after a few back passes from kickoff. He played a long ball to freshman forward Alec Supinski, whose flicked header landed at the feet of Harry Swartz.

Swartz played the ball out wide to senior midfielder Lewis Aird. Swartz continued sprinting into Charleston’s penalty box, where an inch perfect cross from Aird found his head and eventually the back of the net.

Mirroring last week against Lowell, the Husky bench erupted and celebrated in front of their supporters.

Swartz praised his team’s ability to keep focused despite not much going their way the majority of the game.

“I think we really just had focus on ourselves and eventually come together as a unit to get the win,” he said.

Gbandi appreciated the resiliency from his team and their growth from their position a year ago.

“This game, I don’t think we played that well, but we found a way to win it,” Gbandi said. “So we’ll build on that. And I’m happy for the guys, because that’s a game last year we easily would have lost, but we found a way to win.”

Despite his team’s self-described lack of energy and poor play, the result is crucial to Gbandi and his players.

“When you look at the score line it is going to say one-zero Huskies, and to us that is most important,” Gbandi said.

For the time being, NU sits at the top of the CAA conference, a position they hope to keep.

The Huskies travel to Worcester, Massachusetts, tonight for a non-conference match at the College of the Holy Cross where they will look to keep the momentum going before their next CAA match against defending league champions University of Delaware back at Parsons Field on Saturday night.

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