What to expect from a (possible) Northwestern men’s soccer season
By Karan Gowda
With the return of Big Ten football over the weekend, we still have yet to hear much about the possible return of college soccer. All indications are that other fall sports will be pushed to the spring. The Big Ten said it was considering the possibility of holding fall sports in spring 2021 when it canceled fall sports in August, but gave no further updates when it announced football’s return in September.
If men’s soccer is able to play at any point this school year, here is our way-too-early preview of the 2020-21 Northwestern soccer season:
Following suit with the Big Ten football schedule, it’s likely that if soccer returns, it would follow the same conference-only format. With that in mind, there may be seeds for success with this unpredictable group.
A 3-3-2 record in the conference last year came with some big highs, such as the 3-1 upset over defending national champion Maryland. The Wildcats also managed to take No. 10 Penn State to overtime before ultimately falling 3-2. But these sorts of performances were offset with disappointing ones, such as the 0-0 tie with Ohio State after two overtime periods and the 3-0 loss to Michigan.
The key for Coach Tim Lenahan’s roster in 2020 is replacing the attacking output that graduated after last season. Forward Ty Seager and winger Matt Moderwell provided reliable attacking threats. Moderwell was especially dangerous on the wings and provided great service into the box. Junior Bardia Kimiavi, senior Spencer Howard, sophomore Ugo Achara Jr. and junior Jose Del Valle will look to step up and offer more goal scoring capability in order to continue the growth of this squad.
Another contention for Lenahan will be the shape of his midfield. Junior Richie Bennett looks to be a mainstay with sophomore Vicente Castro impressing in his first year as well. In the 4-3-3 formation, Lenahan will have many options to try to fill the void left by the graduation of box-to-box midfielder Mac Mazzola, whether it be Logan Weaver, Drew Viscomi or first-year Joseph Arena.
As for the defense, senior center Garrett Opperman will look to build on a steady campaign with center back partner Andrew McLeod graduating. Sophomore Jayson Cyrus and junior Julian Zighelboim will look to establish themselves as first choice fullbacks.
In goal, Miha Miskovic will see his last year between the sticks after an already impressive college career.
With some big personnel losses and the loss of buffered non-conference games in the schedule, this men’s team will probably finish around 4-3-1 in conference play as their younger contributors rise up to the forefront in an ever-growing team. Forwards Bardia Kimiavi and Jose del Valle will look to step up their production as Richie Bennett and Vicente Castro try to assert themselves in the midfield. With a steady back line and goal courtesy of Garrett Opperman and Miha Miskovic, the Wildcats should build upon their flashes of success last year.