By Chris Judd and Jake Fischer, News Staff
All good things come to an end, and the Northeastern men’s soccer team found that out firsthand when they lost their first home game in over two years to Columbia on Saturday, 2-1.
The Lions began the game aggressively on offense, scoring eight minutes into the first half when Andrew Tinari chipped the ball over sophomore goalkeeper Dylan Faber. This was the first time Northeastern trailed at home in nearly a year, the last time being Sept. 25, 2012.
The goal, however, was Columbia’s only shot of the half as Northeastern then surged into intermission, leading Columbia in corner kicks 4-2.
Senior midfielder Dante Marini tied the game with 11 minutes left in the half after receiving a pass from fellow senior Conner Alexander. Marini put the ball in the bottom right corner of the net from 20 yards out. The goal was the senior captain’s seventh point of the season, the most of any Husky player. Alexander is listed as a defender, but was playing at forward for the first half.
“We started with our regular guys,” coach Brian Ainscough said. “The last couple games we didn’t score many goals. So, we went into the week figuring out ways we could just get some life into our attack. It’s a little unorthodox, but Conner has played there, he’s a big, strong guy, he scored four goals last year, so he has a nose for the goal.”
Alexander nearly had Northeastern’s second score two minutes later as he dribbled past the goalie, who was playing outside the box. However, the shot was booted away by a defender.
Columbia proceeded to score 13 minutes into the second half when Faber dove to make a save. He made the save, but the ball bounced in front of the net to a second player, who was able to easily shoot it in.
Northeastern’s best chance at tying the game came with two minutes left, when Alexander stole the ball from a defender and had open space. The goalie dove and made the save next to the right post.
The Huskies got offensive throughout the second half, but could not capitalize. They switched the lines with about five minutes left when they moved captain Simon Cox to offense, but ultimately couldn’t score.
“Sometimes you wait until really late in the game to make your change, but I thought they weren’t threatening that much in the game,” Ainscough said. “They had one shot in the first half, a couple late in the second half. They had no shots before they got that goal that made it two. They had three or four shots when we started to push people forward. … We were just trying to get something going because they play five guys in the midfield pretty tight, pretty compact defense.”
Northeastern, however, was able to correct their scoring woes when they traveled to Worcester to take on non-conference rival Holy Cross on Tuesday.
The Huskies were able to outshoot their opponents 13-9 overall with seven shots on goal compared to the Crusaders’ one. Behind second half goals from senior Jonathan Eckford and Alexander, the Huskies coasted to a 2-0 road victory. The win ended their two-game losing streak and three-game winless streak.
“I’m not much of a scorer,” Eckford said with a humble laugh. “We were just able to capitalize. We were struggling to find the back of the net, but we’re going to find different ways to do it with different people if we have to.”
Being able to correct some of their offensive deficiencies is a good thing, Ainscough said.
“Anytime you can win on the road it’s always good. It’s a tough place to play, Holy Cross, we haven’t won many at that field. So we’re happy,” the long-time coach said. “We had a lot of chances in the last couple of games that we probably could have scored on. It’s just the game we play is a game of inches and some games it all goes right and other games you’re on the wrong end of it. We expected to beat Holy Cross and we did.”
With a positive taste still left in their mouths, the team will welcome former America East rival Stony Brook to Parsons Field on Saturday at 6 p.m.