By Ethan Schroeder, news staff
Despite the Northeastern University (NU) men’s soccer team’s turbulent start, it still had a number of opportunities for success. The Huskies started the season with nine winless results – three of them Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) matchups – yet there they were, entering the last week of the regular season with a chance to make the playoffs.
Sitting at 3-10-2 going into their last conference matchup against the Drexel University Dragons, NU needed a victory and some outside help – a loss from the College of William & Mary – to claim the sixth and final spot in the CAA tournament. Unfortunately, a last-minute goal from Drexel silenced the Huskies’ postseason aspirations. A loss later in the week to Dartmouth College marked adisappointing end to a season ofhigh hopes.
The Huskies were coming off a promising week. With a CAA victory against the College of Charleston and a tough-fought contest at the nationally ranked University of North Carolina, one would have assumed Northeastern had all of the momentum it needed. NU had the type offensive production against Drexel that is normally characteristic of a winning team, but the inability to finish that plagued them at the beginning of the season reappeared on Halloween night. In result, the Dragon’s late goal was more than enough to seal the win.
Northeastern produced 23 shots in the matchup, its largest tally since October 2010. Sophomore forward Frantzdy Pierrot led the charge with six shots, while junior forward Christian McKenna chipped in a season-high five of his own. Nonetheless, Drexel redshirt freshman goalkeeper Jacob Jordan’s stellar performance in net was the difference maker. With eight saves, Jordan single-handedly kept Drexel tied at 0-0 throughout regulation.
While the offense piled on shot after shot, NU sophomore goalkeeper Jonathan Thuresson found himself inactive for the majority of the match. Thuresson made two saves in his 90 minutes of play, but it was the third shot the Sweden native faced that sent the Huskies packing.
With less than one minute remaining before what would have been an overtime period, Drexel launched a game-winning counterattack. The final result was a two-on-one advantage for the Dragons. Drexel freshman forward Francisco Rodrigues da Palma connected on a pass from the outside wing and sent it past an outstretched Thuresson into the upper left corner of the net.
All of Northeastern’s nine scoring chances in the final minutes were to no avail, including a crucial missed header by freshman defender Andrew Lombard with less than 20 seconds to play.
Though William & Mary grabbed the sixth seed with a CAA victory on the same night, negating the Huskies chances even if they had won, the loss had a visible effect on the team’s psyche as they traveled to New Hampshire on Tuesday. There, they squared up against the Dartmouth College Big Green. In a case of déjà vu, the Huskies were unable to capitalize on an advantage in shots and ended up losing due to Dartmouth by a score of 2-0.
In the first half, Northeastern held a distinct 10-2 advantage over the Big Green in shots taken. Dartmouth junior goalkeeper James Hickok made four saves for his squad in the time period, while Thuresson was only called upon to make a save once in the same span. Once again, McKenna helped power the offense with five shots on goal.
By the time the final whistle blew, however, the Huskies had failed to score for the third consecutive game. Instead, Dartmouth was the one to break the scoreless tie. In the 75th minute, Big Green freshman midfielder Amadu Kunateh landed a back heel on an assist from senior midfielder Alberto Gorini to make the match 1-0.
Less than 10 minutes later, Dartmouth freshman forward Eduvie Ikoba added a brace. His finish off a corner kick solidified victory, as well as a season-ending three-game losing streak for the Huskies.
With the loss, the Huskies finish the season with a record of 3-12-2, the team’s worst since 1991. Despite the tumultuous season, though, the future is bright for the Huskies. Northeastern loses only one senior to graduation. Meanwhile, the team will return its top five goal scorers and starting goalkeeper. The Huskies will look for a better campaign in 2016; exhibition matches are expected to begin in August.
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics