By Ethan Schroeder, news staff
Nine games into the season, the struggling Northeastern University (NU) men’s soccer team’s aspirations of postseason play were fading. Nonetheless, Head Coach Brian Ainscough maintained the belief that with conference play, the playoffs were always in sight.
His words rang true for the Huskies this week, as NU won its first game of the season in an exciting home finish against the College of William & Mary. Four days later, the team followed up with an impressive fight in a loss to Hofstra University. The record now stands at 1-8-2.
Northeastern took to the pitch against the Tribe of William & Mary having lost all three of its previous Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) games this season. With a late surge, however, the Huskies were able to leave Parsons Field with a 2-1 victory.
The Huskies had only three shots in the first half and were held without a shot on goal until the 82nd minute. Luckily, Northeastern sophomore goalkeeper Jonathan Thuresson maintained his midseason form. His six saves on the night matched a career high.
As the game approached its waning moments, the Huskies made their move. A give-and-go between freshman midfielder Kevin Carvalho and sophomore midfielder Ackim Mpofu in the 86th minute resulted in a goal by Mpofu, his first of the season.
“Ackim has the ability to score big goals for us,” Ainscough told GoNU.com in a postgame interview. “He scored four last year from playing fullback, and he was full fullback again today. That goal there, he’s going to remember that for a while.”
Those worried about a comeback from the Tribe were soon put to peace by a second Husky goal. Sophomore forward Frantzdy Pierrot made it three straight games with a goal, scoring in the 88th minute with a chip shot.
The two-goal cushion allowed the team to withstand a 90th minute tally from William & Mary freshman midfielder Marcel Perry and walk away with its first win.
“It looked like we figured we won the CAA the way the reaction was after the game,” Ainscough said. “It’s just ultimate relief when our season has taken this long to get our first win.”
Pierrot’s performance on the night, along with his goals against Elon University and James Madison University, helped earn him the honor of CAA Player of the Week.
On Wednesday, the team rode a wave of confidence into Hempstead, N.Y. to take on Hofstra. Ranked No. 22 in the country by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Hofstra needed all but three minutes of double overtime to take down the surging Huskies, 2-1.
In terms of opportunities, the Huskies held the upper hand in the matchup but that did not translate into goals. Despite eight shots on net compared to Hofstra’s six, it was the Pride who earned the win. They struck first in the 34th minute with a header from junior midfielder Lerthon Theuma.
NU did not allow its opponent to stay content for long, however. Eight minutes into the second half, junior forward Christian McKenna finished on a ball from sophomore forward Khesanio Hall to even things up at one. The goal was McKenna’s first of the season.
From then until overtime, the game was highlighted by shutout play from Thuresson and Hofstra senior goalkeeper Patric Pray. Pray stopped four shots from the Huskies in the second half to keep his team at level pegging, while Thuresson stopped the one shot that came his direction.
The two overtime periods were fairly uneventful, with only three total shots on goal between the two teams in 17 minutes. Unfortunately for the Huskies, the third goal made the difference. In the 107th minute, Hofstra junior midfielder Joseph Holland sent a pass from sophomore defender Jon Fraser past Thuresson and into the top left corner of the net for the victory. Northeastern is now 0-2-2 in overtime games.
Northeastern will travel back home to play the University of Delaware this Saturday. Following that game, the Huskies will take a one-game break from CAA play to take on the College of the Holy Cross next Wednesday. Ainscough hopes this week’s results signal a successful end to the season.
“September was a long, long month,” Ainscough said. “Hopefully in October and early November, we can turn the tide.”
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics