By Ethan Schroeder, news staff

The Northeastern University (NU) men’s soccer team remains winless after its first eight games, unable to come out on top in its first league matchups of the season with losses against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) and James Madison University (JMU).

This Saturday, the Huskies (0-6-2) traveled south for a tough road game against the UNCW Seahawks (6-1-1). Ranked No. 22 in the country by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the time of the game’s occurrence, UNCW humbled the visitors by allowing zero shots on goal en route to a 1-0 victory.

The game was characterized by strong defensive play, and UNCW did not attempt a shot on goal until the 57th minute. In the end, it was corner kicks that did Northeastern in. The Seahawks received four corner kicks, one of which resulted in the game’s only goal. UNCW senior midfielder Daniel Escobar struck for his team in the 67th on a header. Escobar’s score came as a result of quick passes in the box after an unsuccessful corner.

The Huskies registered four shots over the course of their first conference game, but none of them required a save from Wilmington junior goalkeeper Sean Melvin. NU sophomore Khesanio Hall provided two shots for a team that has only scored four goals this season.

“When you look at all of the offensive players on our roster, you wouldn’t think that [scoring] would be a problem this late into the season,” NU Head Coach Brian Ainscough said. “I thought we did well getting into spots, but we’re getting gun-shy when it comes to making that final play.”

Northeastern’s starting 11 have been plagued with injuries so far this season. Ainscough believes lack of structural consistency on a game-to-game basis has fed into the Huskies’ scoring woes.

“You hate to use it as an excuse, but we really have had so many hurt guys,” Ainscough said. “It’s not even just in the forwards. Scoring starts from the defense, and we have guys that have been either hurt or sick back there, too.”

Wednesday, NU returned to Parsons Field to take on the JMU Dukes. Entering the game, the visitors had a 1-6-1 record. Ainscough was confident in his team’s chances in the days before the matchup.

“[JMU] is in the same boat as us — more or less — as far as the win column goes,” Ainscough said. “The only way to get out of a rut is to grind out a win, and against JMU we have a good shot at improving to 1-1 in the [Colonial Athletic Association].”

On Wednesday, the Huskies took the Dukes to overtime tied at 2-2. Unfortunately, a JMU goal in the 103rd minute gave the visitors their second win of the season, further prolonging NU’s winless drought.

After being held scoreless for two games prior to the matchup, the Huskies struck first in the 33rd minute. Assisted by Hall and sophomore striker Frantzdy Pierrot, sophomore forward Harry Swartz was able to record his first goal of the season and put NU up 1-0. JMU was not down for long, however, as a header from redshirt freshman forward Billy Metzler only four minutes later evened things up.

The quick counter-scoring set the pace for the game’s duration. In the 69th minute, Northeastern jumped back ahead with Pierrot’s second goal of the year.

JMU redshirt junior forward Connor Coward tied the game 38 seconds later with a finish of his own.

The Huskies narrowly outshot the opponent 13-12 over the course of the game. When the match needed overtime with both teams still tied at two, it was the Dukes that finished things off. After a quiet first overtime period from both sides, JMU ended the game in the 103rd minute. A header from senior forward Eric Schmidt handed NU yet another disappointing result.

Though NU is still searching for a win, its play against teams thus far suggests success is not far away, according to Ainscough. Northeastern’s goals-conceded-per-game average currently stands at 1.25.

Northeastern’s schedule does not get easier moving forward, as they travel to North Carolina this Saturday to take on Elon University. Elon is currently ranked No. 10 in the country by the NCAA. Despite the challenge, Ainscough sees the tough opponent as a means of finally getting the team into form.

“We’ve been in this position before,” Ainscough said. “Getting victories in the conference is how you get out of it. We’ve got a young squad with short-term memories, and a game against a team like Elon could be a great source of motivation.”

Photo by Brian Bae.