DOMINIC HOSCHER | Reporter
The Lindenwood Lions, who had only suffered one loss in their last six games, looked to end the regular season on a high note as they traveled to No. 18 Northeastern State University, a team they tied 2-2 with earlier in the season.
This time around, the RiverHawks were able to pull away from the Lions, as they won the defensive battle by a final score of 1-0.
“It wasn’t a really good game for us, and we made mistakes that cost us at the end of the day,” midfielder Leon Silva said. “But, we also had our seniors play a really good game because they knew this was their last game with us.”
It was a quiet opening 20 minutes for both sides. Chances were being generated, but not many of them were being put on target. This would be the theme for most of the game, as the only two Lions to tally a shot on goal were Joshua Scholl and Thomas Hutcheson.
Northeastern State’s best opportunity came in the 24th minute. The hosts were awarded a penalty, which was knocked in by James Doyle for his ninth goal of the season. The goal sent the Lions trailing for the first time since Oct. 28 in a match against Fort Hays State, which was their most recent defeat.
“It was really frustrating and showed how the game was,” Silva said. “It was a really close game. We played a good game, they played a good game, but we lost because of a penalty kick which was our fault, and we had less chances.”
Things started to get combative in the second half, with Northeastern State’s Bailey Weeks and Scott Adams both receiving yellow cards in the 58th minute. The true deciding moment of the second period came in the 65th minute, when Hutcheson was shown a red card to send the Lions down to 10 men. Lindenwood’s captain ended the regular season joint top scorer on the team with nine goals on the year.
On a day where the offense failed to find a way past the RiverHawks’ stellar backline, it was Aleksa Nenadic who stepped up for the Lions. Nenadic had his best performance of the season in goal for Lindenwood, saving nine of Northeastern State’s 10 shots.
Nenadic’s heroic effort wasn’t enough, however, as the Lions fell to the RiverHawks 1-0 on Sunday afternoon. Northeastern State outshot Lindenwood 19-17 at the end of the day.
The RiverHawks are now winners of six straight games, with five of those victories being shutouts. On the other end, Lindenwood finishes the season with a 9-6-3 record after being held off the scoreboard for the first time since Sept. 7. While they finished above .500, the Lions still wanted more as their season came to a close.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t have our best season,” Silva said. “We’re really sad that our season ended, and we’re really disappointed because this is a team that should be challenging for a national title. We know the program’s history, so we have higher standards than that.”
Silva said the season will help the team prepare for the future.
“We learned that there are no easy games,” he said. “We are moving to a new conference, so we have to be ready for this and be prepared for next season. We know that we have to stick together, and we know what history this program has. We need to be focused and learn from our mistakes from this year.”