Men’s soccer grinds through difficult stretch

Men’s soccer grinds through difficult stretch
Louis Aird dribbles past a College of Charleston defender in an earlier season game / Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics

By Noah Greany, news staff

Northeastern University men’s soccer set out on their first conference road trip of the year last week, with Hofstra University and Drexel University in their sights. Following an unsuccessful week with losses to The College of the Holy Cross and the University of Delaware, the Huskies were looking to get back on track and stay near the top of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) standings.

The Huskies traveled to Hempstead, New York, the night of Sept. 27 to take on the Pride of Hofstra University. Third-year Martin Nygaard earned the start in defense, replacing the suspended third-year Moustapha Samb. Samb received a red card in Northeastern’s last match against Delaware.

Northeastern started the match strong, pinning Hofstra in their own end for the majority of the opening 20 minutes. In the 22nd minute, fourth-year forward Harry Swartz executed a perfect give-and-go with fourth-year midfielder Lewis Aird. Swartz continued his run into the box and finished off the pass from Aird to give the Huskies an early 1-0 lead.

The combination of Swartz and Aird is a familiar one, with the two also combining earlier in the season to win the game in overtime for the Huskies against the College of Charleston.

Northeastern continued to apply pressure to Hofstra’s backline, however they could not add anything to Swartz’ 22nd minute tally before the whistle blew for halftime.

The second half played out evenly, with both sides testing each other’s goalkeepers throughout the stanza. After coming up empty with their first 12 shots of the match, the Pride finally got on the scoreboard on a point blank strike from first-year forward Matthew Vowinkel.

The second half ended with the score still knotted at one, despite both teams earning chances to win the match in the final minutes.

Extra time played out just as the second half did, with both teams garnering chances to end the match. Third-year forward Khori Bennett rattled the crossbar with a strike in the 107th minute, however Northeastern could not push across the game winning goal, with the match eventually ending in a 1-1 draw.

“I thought we played well [at Hofstra],” head coach Chris Gbandi said. “But there’s a little bit of frustration: We’re playing well, but just can’t find the result right now.”

The Huskies again tried to find that result during their trip to Philadelphia to take on the Drexel University Dragons Saturday night. Gbandi put out an unchanged starting eleven from the side that drew with Hofstra earlier in the week, hoping to ride the momentum from a well-played match into Saturday night.

The first half played out evenly, with the score knotted at zero heading into the locker rooms. Five minutes into the second half, Drexel found themselves with a counter attack opportunity, eventually finding the open man Dakota Peterson who slotted the ball into the open net.

Northeastern looked to respond quickly, with a few shots finding the target shortly after conceding the first goal of the match.

It wasn’t until the 88th minute of the match that the Huskies finally broke through. First-year forward Danny Munch swung in a corner from the right flag, finding Samb, who had returned from his suspension, in the Drexel penalty box. Samb gained possession and slid a pass across to first-year forward Alec Supinski who calmly volleyed into the back of the net.

The Huskies headed to overtime for the sixth time this season, but Gbandi was unphased, confident in his team’s preparation and work ethic.

“One of the things we preach is the fitness piece, and we came in during preseason in decent fitness,” Gbandi said. “I think the guys seem to be fine, we always push the pace during overtime. Usually with overtime games, a lot of times the guys are fading a little bit but we haven’t seen that.”

Though the Huskies pushed the pace in Philadelphia, it was Drexel who found a way to win the match on a goal in the 96th minute.

After a foul on third-year midfielder Gerardo Milano, Drexel were able to move the ball up the field quickly toward fourth-year goalkeeper Jonathan Thurreson’s net. Drexel’s Mathias Ebbesen was able to gather the ball, pick his head up and find the streaking run of midfielder Sebastien Cabral, who calmly ended the game from six yards out.

Despite the good performance from his team, Gbandi was ultimately frustrated again with the lack of a result.

“Drexel was probably one of our better games all year, and to find a way to lose that one was super disappointing,” Gbandi said. “Then again, as a coaching staff you ask your guys to give you everything and I think they have been doing that, and we just have to keep moving forward.”

The Huskies looked to do exactly that as they took on the University of Hartford Tuesday night back at Parsons Field in a non-conference matchup.

The first half was a back and forth affair, however neither team was able to get on the scoreboard in the opening 45 minutes. It wasn’t until the 50th minute that the game would finally see its first tally.

Hartford’s Alexis Triadis struck a volley that deflected off third-year defender Edward Okey and toward Thurreson’s net. The deflection caught Thurreson flat footed, who could only watch the shot sail into the net, giving Hartford a 1-0 advantage.

In a theme that would eventually repeat itself, the score changed rapidly. Swartz collected the ball from Aird at the top of the penalty box and arrowed a shot into the top left corner of Hartford’s net, equalizing for the Huskies.

Just three minutes later, Hartford would regain their lead via a set-piece 30 yards from the Husky net. Thurreson made an initial save, however Kelechi Akujobi cleaned up the mess, taking the rebound and placing it into the net.

Hartford never looked back, and as the final whistle blew, the scoreboard at Parsons Field gave the advantage to the visitors.

The Huskies will look to get back on track as they continue conference play on Saturday night in Brookline, squaring off against the College of William & Mary at 5 p.m.

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  1. Pingback: Men’s soccer outscored 10-1 against William & Mary, SMU – The Huntington News

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