Northwestern fights back and draws Wisconsin-Milwaukee 1-1 Northwestern Men’s Soccer scores a return goal in a 1-1 draw on Wednesday

Talia Winiarsky/The North West Daily

Junior midfielder Joseph Arena heads the ball against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Arena scored the Wildcats’ only goal in the 1-1 draw, becoming NU’s 11th goalscorer this season.

Northwestern faced Wisconsin-Milwaukee in a cold, non-conference affair Wednesday under the lights of Martin Stadium.

The midweek reprieve from their respective conference rosters gave the Wildcats and Panthers a chance at victory in a season in which wins have been rare for both – the two teams combined for three total wins this season. Still, NU picked up their game in October, as the Cats entered the game with a 1-1-2 record this month.

“We weren’t getting any results in September,” coach Russell Payne said. “In recent weeks we have had much better results and we have scored in every game. So it’s definitely a much more positive moment for the team.

NU (2-7-5, 0-4-2 Big Ten) commanded possession for much of the first frame. But keeping the ball in the middle of the park is useless if the team can’t generate attacking chances, Payne said.

It only takes one streak to turn a game around, and that moment came for the Panthers in the 31st minute.

Threatening down the right channel, Milwaukee (1-7-6, 0-3-3 Horizon League) returned the ball to midfield, which eventually found David Cox’s feet. He wasted little time whipping a pass into the box.

NU looked caught off guard as the ball bounced between the two Cats center backs, grad student Ethan Dudley and senior Deng Deng Kur. Sophomore defenseman Brandon Clagette was one step behind Panther Emil Lindgren Pedersen, who scored the game’s first goal.

“Earlier in the game there was more intention to go forward with our possession,” Payne said. “And we got away with it… They had a ball between two of our guys, we didn’t communicate well, they scored. It’s that simple.

Milwaukee’s 1-0 halftime lead was the first time since Sept. 23 that NU entered the halftime break facing a deficit. As they have recently, the Cats reacted quickly during intermission.

In the 57th minute, Dudley launched a long-range effort on goal. Milwaukee goaltender Nick Chiappa saved Dudley’s shot but pushed the ball directly into junior midfielder Joseph Arena’s path.

Like all good poaching forwards, Arena was in excellent position to pounce on the rebound. The New Jersey native pounced on the ball and headed it into the back of the net to make it 1-1.

Despite some late pushes in the final third, neither the Cats nor the Panthers scored what would have been the game-winning goal.

“We created a lot of penetration in the final third, we got into the box a lot,” Payne said. “We need more quality in the box at these times.”

Now with their third draw in five games, NU are looking to refocus with a pair of critical matchups approaching.

Currently dead last in the Big Ten standings, the Cats are two points behind Wisconsin and Michigan. NU host the Badgers in their final home game of the season on Sunday and, needless to say, securing three points is the overriding concern.

A draw or loss this weekend makes ramping up a conference tournament bid all the more difficult. With a win, NU could control their own destiny as they travel to Michigan State the following weekend.

“So now we’re moving on and focusing on the points this weekend against Wisconsin,” Payne said. “We have everything to play. We can get into the playoffs in the next two games and we’re going to work hard to get there.

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