Huskies continue five-game skid with 2-1 loss vs. Bucknell


File photo by Albert Tamura

Senior midfielder Aiman Ginawi handles the ball in a match against Charleston earlier this season.

Finn Fielding, news correspondent

After a fiery start highlighted by a goal from junior forward Dan Munch, Northeastern could not overcome poor possession and a relentless Bucknell attack in a 2-1 home loss Tuesday, marking their fifth straight outing without a win.

The Huskies (5-5-3, 2-1-2 CAA) began the half strong on both sides of the ball, as they controlled possession for the first 15 minutes of the contest. A few quick offensive pushes by senior midfielder Aiman Ginawi, junior forward Alec Supinski and sophomore forward Benjamin Klingen set the tone for an aggressive offensive half, while the defense performed just as admirably. The only times the Bison (4-5-3) were able to penetrate Northeastern’s half of the field in the first ten minutes was through a couple of long balls, which were easily dealt with by the Northeastern defense.

For all of the offensive pressure that NU was able to generate, it did not turn into many shots. However, the dominating midfield play proved too much for Bucknell by the 17th minute, as Munch was able to capitalize on one of the Huskies’ first shots to put Northeastern up 1-0. NU sophomore defender Jack Monte played a ball into the box from the right side that was deflected by the keeper to a waiting Munch, who fired a volley in at the near post.

Following this first goal of the match (save for a wicked cross and solid chance from Munch moments later), NU’s offense fizzled somewhat and the team switched to a more defensive mindset. As the half progressed, the Bison spent more time was spent in the Northeastern defending third. The Bison began to settle in and move the ball systematically from their defense through the midfield to their strikers. Northeastern, save for a few brilliant runs and passes by sophomore midfielder Jacob Marin-Thomson, saw their transition offense become sloppier as time went on.

This nearly came to a head in the 42nd minute when the ball was lost by NU in the midfield and Bucknell gained a 4-on-3 advantage. The Bison were able to rip a shot from the left side of the box, but a charging Chandler Cree stopped the shot, and the deflection went wide.

The Huskies came out for the second half flat-footed and the Bucknell midfield carved through the NU defense again and again. A number of missed passes and slow decisions gave the Bison’s offense far too much time to operate in the Northeastern defending third. This proved costly just three minutes into the half, when a NU turnover put the ball at the feet of Bucknell’s Trevor Wiggins on the edge of the penalty box. A quick pass back to freshman midfielder Chris Masur and an ample amount of time allowed Masur to chip the ball over the head of Cree and level the score at 1-1.

Though the Huskies’ midfield continued to have trouble dealing with the Bucknell attack, they made a few offensive chances of their own. In the 52nd minute, Klingen made a fantastic run past two defenders and Bucknell keeper Emmett Witmer to give NU their best chance since the beginning of the match. Unfortunately, instead of taking the shot, Klingen elected to pass it off to Supinski, and the pass was intercepted and cleared. This was emblematic of the main issue in this match for the Huskies: a failure to effectively complete passes through transition offense and within the midfield. Mistakes and slow decision-making resulted in panicked balls through the air and a much lower possession percentage.

A further blow was dealt to the Huskies in the 69th minute, as Klingen left with an injury. With their top offensive threat gone, the main source of offense the Huskies relied on through the half, the counterattack, was greatly weakened.

Meanwhile, Bucknell continued its coordinated attack, launching run after run at the Huskies’ defense. Though Grant Elgin, Monte and Munch all performed admirably, the prolonged attack eventually broke them down. After conceding a corner in the 85th minute, Bucknell’s junior midfielder Matt Thorsheim fired a ball to the far post that was deflected and scored, putting the Bison ahead for good.

Head coach Chris Gbandi said , the Huskies “never seemed to get going in the second half,” and that he was forced to make some switches that “took some of the sting” out of the attack. This could be referring to the absence of Klingen, who has provided the team with 4 goals and many ample chances this season. In looking ahead to Elon this Saturday, Coach Gbandi was optimistic but concerned about injuries, hoping to have his starting 11 fully healthy and ready to play as soon as possible.

The Huskies will look to find their first win since September 24th at Elon (4-7-1, 0-5-0 CAA) Saturday at 1 pm.