Panthers Knock Off Northwestern 3-1 In Exhibition Finale
Aug. 27, 2005
EVANSTON, Ill. - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's soccer team converted each of their first three shots on goal into scores on Saturday afternoon, racing out to a 3-0 lead in defeating Northwestern University 3-1 at the LBT Sports Complex. The victory gives the Panthers a perfect 2-0 preseason record in what was the exhibition finale for both teams.
"We did what we needed to do today," UWM head coach Louis Bennett said. "We were resilient and got the result we were looking for against a quality team."
After a slow start by the Panthers, junior Steve Sperl got things started in the 15th minute, giving Milwaukee the 1-0 lead off a Dale Weiler assist. It stayed that way until close to halftime, when sophomore Troy Spielmann scored the eventual game-winner off a Northwestern miscue. Spielmann took control of a ball a Wildcat defender had misplayed in front of the penalty area. He then beat the goalie who came off his line to make it 2-0 just 46 seconds before halftime.
"By the time we put two or three quality attacks together, we had two goals," Bennett said. "The first time we put three quality passes together we scored. That gave us the inspiration we needed to get in the game from an offensive point of view."
The Wildcats controlled the ball for most of the first 15 minutes off the game, but were unable to convert on any of their opportunities. They came close in the 8th minute, when Brad North sent a 15 yard blast to the far post, but UWM goalie Eric Mickschl made the save to keep them off the board. Turnovers hurt Milwaukee in the first half especially, but the defense was up to the task the entire game.
Mickshl again kept the lead at 1-0 in the 40th minute, making the save on a free kick from just outside the penalty area off the foot of the Wildcats' Gerardo Alvarez. Minutes later it was Alvarez again, sending an open header wide left with just 1:25 to go in the first half as Northwestern failed to convert on one of their best scoring opportunities.
The Panthers made it 3-0 just 3:26 after halftime, when freshman Josh Curry found sophomore Zeke Dombrowski streaking towards the goal from the left wing. Dombrowski put it past the keeper near post to give UWM their third unanswered goal.
At that point in the game, things got interesting. Six cards were issued the rest of the way, three on each team. After sophomore Chris Lins received a red card in the 55th minute, the Panthers had to play a man down.
"Playing down a man gave us some good practice," Bennett said. "It's not a position we intend to be in, but afterwards we probably had better chances offensively after we made some tactical adjustments."
Things evened back out in the 64th minute, when NU's David Roth was given a red card of his own. Four other players - two from each team - received yellow cards in the game.
Northwestern spoiled the shutout at the 73:04 mark, when Eric Brin got one past the UWM keeper. The set piece goal came after a Panther yellow card, with Brin bending a free kick around the wall to the far post from just outside the penalty area.
The defense held from there, stopping the Wildcats final offensive runs to keep the score at 3-1. Despite the "exhibition" status of the game, the Panthers made a statement on the day, defeating a Wildcat squad that carries preseason rankings of No. 17 by College Soccer News and No. 24 in the NSCAA/adidas poll.
"The rankings don't mean a lot at this time of the year," Bennett said. "Northwestern is a senior-heavy squad (10 seniors) with the capabilities to do very well in the Big 10 and the NCAA Tournament. This gives us an indication of how well we can do and is a realization for both us and our opponents of what we are capable of this year."
"Winning a game 3-1 when the only goal your opponent scores comes off a set piece will make any coach happy."
In the end, Northwestern outshot the Panthers 15 to seven, and also had a seven to five advantage in shots on goal. The Wildcats had six corner kicks to UWM's two. For the Panthers, Mickschl played just over 70 scoreless minutes, making four saves. Freshman Grant Fernstrum came on in the second half, stopping one of the two shots on goal he faced.
The Panthers will begin the regular season next weekend at the Big Toe Invitational in Madison. They will open with a 5 p.m. game against Drake on Friday Sept. 2 and then take on UNLV on Sunday Sept. 4. The game against the Rebels is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. start.