Entering Northeastern’s match against Merrimack on Tuesday, the storylines were focused on anything but soccer. On Monday morning, Merrimack’s decision to leave the NEC and join the MAAC was announced publicly, marking a major leap for the newly-transitioned Division 1 school after just four seasons in the NEC.
But as the two sides clashed in a regional matchup to finish the non conference slate, the Warriors would have to check those external circumstances at the door. In the end, the Huskies delivered a quality performance on the road, topping Merrimack by a 3-1 final.
The Huskies opened play on Tuesday with a flurry of chances on the attacking side of the pitch in Andover. Fraser Brown and Tobias Wangerud continued to show strong chemistry on the top of the attack, as they worked together to dice through the Warrior defense and apply pressure on the opposing goalkeeper.
Unfortunately for Northeastern, the Warriors found a chance against the grain. Lauri Goddard found the ball in the penalty area after the Huskies failed to clear their line, and slid a shot past Colby Hegarty to take the lead just 13 minutes in.
Northeastern was undeterred, and continued to dictate the pace of play. They were faster than the Warriors, and were dominating the midfield, suffocating their attack. Three corner kicks in a row pinned Merrimack in their own end, and the Huskies offense was clearly firing on all cylinders.
They would finally be rewarded in the 37th minute, when Merrimack failed to clear their own lines. Fabrizio Cubeddu pounced on the loose ball at the top of the penalty area, and fired a scorching shot into the top left of the goal. There was no stopping his shot, as he put his entire body behind it to get the Huskies back into the scoresheet.
The half ended with Northeastern failing to score again, but the signs of a successful second half were promising. The midfield was being strangled by the dominating play of the Huskies back four, led by Jack Monte. They held a high line, preventing the Warriors from progressing through the midfield. Their speed on defense was game-changing, as even when the Warriors attempted to get in behind the defense, there was another player there to back up the one in front of him. Cohesive team play and unrelenting efforts on offense set the stage for a strong second half.
A mere seven minutes into the second frame, Northeastern took the lead. Lucas Barankiewicz took a free kick from deep in his own half, and played a long through ball that found a surging Edward Rendle in stride. Rendle settled the ball from the air, and rolled a shot into the bottom left corner, giving the Huskies a goal from seemingly nowhere. Barankiewicz’s spectacular pass was his first assist of the season, and his first direct goal contribution of the year. 2-1 Huskies.
Northeastern wasn’t done yet, however, as they abided by the philosophy of the best defense being a strong offense. With 25 minutes to go in the match, Northeastern buried the dagger: Cubeddu carried the ball through space into the attacking third, and a quick link up with Brown saw Cubeddu receive the ball again at the top of the box. A one-timer sent the ball rocketing into the top left corner. His world-class goal gave Northeastern a commanding 3-1 lead.
From there, the Huskies slowed down the pace. They weathered the weak attempts at counterattacks by the Warriors, and glided to the final whistle without a change in scoreline.
The Huskies will be back in action at Parsons Field for their final regular season game of the season against No. 22 Hofstra. Jack Sinclair will have the call live on WRBB Sports+.