Men’s soccer welcomes BIG 10 conference giant Northwestern


Conal Duffy/ Photo Staff

Paul Kirdorf sprints up field.

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois men’s soccer team welcomes the Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday. Looking for their first win of the season, head coach Eric Johnson will look to bring his best against the Big 10 opponent.

The foe from up north is currently holding a 1-3 record with only one goal on the season. This in-state matchup will be another out of conference matchup for the Leathernecks. This game is also the first game of their longest home field stretch. Both teams are still attempting to find their stride and see what does and does not work.

During this test, the Leathernecks need to focus on two factors: keeping a clean sheet and playing in the lead. Not once has this team held the lead. The Purple and Gold have put up four goals on the season, but never has one of those goals taken the lead. Last game against the University of Illinois Chicago, the ‘Necks came out swinging but couldn’t find the net early.

Johnson should also be looking for Tim Trilk to record his first clean sheet on the season. Letting up three goals in every regular game this season is not a stat to be proud of. As the Wildcats are struggling with up front attacking, the Leathernecks should pounce on their weakness and make sure their defense is the best it can be.

For Northwestern, they need to focus on getting the ball in the net. Look for a strong up-front attack with many balls into the box. They need to learn how to score and will look to capitalize on a Leatherneck mistake to counter-attack. This will be the Wildcats’ first attempt in enemy territory. Losing two games at home and going 1-1 at a neutral site means that they have yet to play in a hostile environment. With a strong home field advantage, the Leathernecks can use this inexperience to put the ‘Cats on their heels.

Players to watch for Western are Paul Kirdorf and Daisuke Otsuka. The two foreign players, from Germany and Japan, respectively, both have one goal on the season, but they’re looking for a winning goal. Otsuka is second on the team with five shots, and also scored the winning goal in a preseason matchup for the Leathernecks. Kirdorf needs to be the player to watch because he is the leader and captain of this squad. In trying times, it will be his job to lift his team above the noise.

A player to watch for Northwestern is Bardia Kimiavi. He has the only goal on the season for the Wildcats. He has a team high three shots on goal and is a strong offensive weapon for the wildcats. Although he has only started one game this year, he is an off the bench player that brings a spark of energy and life onto the field. He has won one game for Northwestern and will look to do it another time against Western.

Kickoff at John F. Mackenzie field is 4:30 p.m. on Thursday evening.