By Kyle Taylor, deputy sports editor
The Northeastern University (NU) men’s soccer team notched its first winning streak of the season, beating James Madison University and the College of the Holy Cross this past week.
The Huskies pulled out a double-overtime win against the Dukes last Saturday, despite only putting up four shots during the entire contest to their opponent’s 20. Northeastern proved that quality trumps quantity when they scored the only goal of the game in the 103rd minute.
Sophomore midfielder Kevin Carvalho achieved his third assist of the season on a free kick pass by junior midfielder Ackim Mpofu. This game was crucial for the Huskies, who rose to fifth in the Colonial Athletics Association (CAA) conference standings, placing them back into playoff contention since the top six teams will qualify. During the game, junior goalkeeper Jonathan Thuresson achieved his fourth clean sheet of the season.
Head Coach Chris Gbandi praised the team’s willingness to play hard and fight in a game where things seemed to not be going well.
“It was one of those games where we know that we probably didn’t play our best soccer,” Gbandi said. “You look at it like we didn’t play well, but we found a way to win which is the big takeaway. Some other games we played well, we just couldn’t find a way to win. From that standpoint, I think it was really positive to not lay great on the road but still get a win.”
Their next game against Holy Cross, however, proved to be an easy win due to the dominant play by the Huskies. The home fans didn’t have to wait long for excitement, with all three of the Huskies’ goals in their 3-1 win coming in the first half. Nine minutes into the game, the tenacity by senior forward Christian McKenna awarded NU a penalty kick. McKenna’s shot was blocked, but he followed up on the deflection and scored Northeastern’s earliest goal of the season.
Ten minutes later, in the 19th minute, sophomore midfielder Kevin Carvalho crossed over his defender to curl a ball in off of the left post for his first collegiate goal. Then, in the 27th minute, freshman midfielder Brendan Massie finished a beautiful give-and-go play assisted by sophomore midfielder Tristan Tippeconnic. After dominating the majority of the game, the Huskies allowed the Crusader’s only goal of the game on a penalty kick in the 85th minute.
A number of the coaching staff, including Gbandi, have worked at Holy Cross and he said he expected that the game against Holy Cross would be interesting and fun. The familiarity is something that he noted, saying, “I know most of the guys, and I recruited some of those guys,” for a reason as to why the Crusaders may have brought some extra intensity to the match.
The Huskies record is now 5-9 and 2-4 in the conference following these two wins.
The game against Holy Cross is the first time the Huskies have scored three goals in a game since a 3-2 win against the University of Delaware in 2014.
The Huskies have been unable to win in any games where they give up a goal, but Gbandi still believes that the team will be able to lift their play for the end of the season.
“I think we can keep momentum going,” Gbandi said. “The mentality has been good, so I think you build on winning on the road. You try to put two wins together and just start winning at home a bit more.”
The Huskies will enjoy two of their last three games of the regular season at home.
“It’s funny though, we should be super excited to play at home,” Gbandi said. “But this season we are 1-3 at home and 3-6 on the road, so I think we need to get that changed around if we want a chance to make the NCAA Tournament […] I think it’s in front of us and we have an opportunity to do something that we weren’t able to do last year so if we take care of business within the next two conference games.”
In order to make the NCAA tournament, the Huskies would have to win the upcoming CAA playoffs.
The next game they play will be a home game against the University of North Carolina Wilmington on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m.
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics