By Nicholas Guiang
Gatorade showers are usually reserved for champions, but despite an average season, the Wildcats and Head Coach Tim Lenahan made it rain Gatorade.
On paper, the 2019 season for the men’s soccer team was average. It went .500 overall with a 8-8-2 record. It was the year that many expected out of Lenahan’s squad. Nevertheless, there are two reasons to celebrate.
I know. I am celebrating the men’s soccer team. I am often a huge critic of this team, not because I do not believe in it, but because I know what it can achieve. Case in point: the flash of potential in back-to-back wins over Maryland and UIC.
The dominant 3-1 victory over No. 25 Maryland was an astonishing start to the Big Ten season. With goals from Bardia Kimiavi, Matt Moderwell and Ty Seager, this was not just an impressive showing of goal-scoring prowess, but of the tenacity and flow that they can reach.
Maryland was the defending National Champion. This was no team to scoff at, and the Wildcats could not afford to miss any opportunities. They pounced on the few mistakes Maryland made, showcased perfectly by Seager’s game-sealing dagger.
Maryland carelessly played with the ball in the backfield and coughed it up. Seager surged and calmly chipped the keeper.
By defeating the champions, Northwestern showed what it is capable of. Lenahan is known to coach defensively sound teams, but more often than not, they struggle to transition from defense to offense. Against the Maryland Terrapins, however, the Wildcats seemed to get it right.
But the celebration of defeating a National Champion caliber team was quickly overshadowed by an equal, and perhaps greater, achievement. Lenahan’s 300th career win.
While only 174 of those wins came during his time with Northwestern, there was a purple party to be had. And this win could not have come on a better night than defeating crosstown rival UIC.
I wrote a postgame article for this match that was quite critical of Lenahan and the team for their performance. However, Lenahan made a crucial point in a later conversation:
“We won the game didn’t we?”
And to answer that, yes they did. Northwestern may have continued to play a defensive game while up a man, but it won the game.
UIC’s Jesus Perez, a contender for the Hermann Trophy as one of the country’s top players, was controlling the middle with ease, so Lenahan kept his defensive block deep into the game despite a 1-0 deficit. It all paid off. That’s probably the reason Lenahan is coaching for Northwestern, and I’m writing an article for a student publication.
But, enough about our disagreements. Congratulations Coach, you deserve to celebrate.