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    NU, South Carolina Play to Scoreless Draw

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Senior Nick Gendron nearly put away a game-winner in the second overtime period against South Carolina Sunday afternoon.
    Senior Nick Gendron nearly put away a game-winner in the second overtime period against South Carolina Sunday afternoon.

    Sept. 2, 2012

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    Site: Columbia, S.C. (Eugene E. Stone III Stadium)
    Score: No. 25 Northwestern 0, South Carolina 0
    Records: NU (1-0-2), South Carolina (1-1-1)
    Next NU Event:Friday, Sept. 7 vs. Drake -- 2 p.m. CT -- DeKalb, Ill.

    COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Playing under a blistering sun that created a heat index of over 100 degrees, No. 25 Northwestern and South Carolina did battle for 110 minutes before the action ended in a scoreless 0-0 draw in the final game of the Gamecock Classic Sunday in Columbia. Sophomore netminder Tyler Miller posted three saves on his way to recording his first shutout of the young season for Northwestern (2-0-1).

    “It was a very good result for us on the road against a very good team," Northwestern head coach Tim Lenahan said. "The way the tournament played out, we were forced to play two games in the day time in 95 degree heat both times. I think our tank was a little bit empty today and when that’s the case, you just kind of have to hang on a little bit and we were able to do that to at least get a draw."

    Senior Wildcat defender Jarrett Baughman was named Defensive MVP of the Gamecock Classic while freshman forward Joey Calistri, senior midfielder Kyle Schickel and junior midfielder Lepe Seetane made the all-tournament team. St. John's, with its weekend record of 2-0-0, was declared the winner of the Gamecock Classic.

    Following a frenzied final minute of regulation, Northwestern proved to be the more dangerous team over the course of 20 minutes of overtime, but South Carolina -- the defending Conference USA regular-season co-champions -- was able to keep NU off the board. Calistri led all Wildcats players with two shots.

    Northwestern, which also played overtime on Friday, held an overwhelming advantage in time of possession over the opening 17 minutes of the game as South Carolina sat back defensively and kept the Wildcats from generating many threatening looks on frame.

    In the 18th minute, the Gamecocks nearly capitalized on their first true crack at goal when USC forward Snoopy Davidson beat a Wildcat defender one-on-one and lined up a right-footed shot from the top of the penalty area, but Miller was in position to reach up and make the save just under the crossbar.

    Moments later, a corner kick for the Gamecocks resulted in another dangerous chance when Bradlee Baladez ripped a low shot from an acute angle on the right side of the box, forcing Miller to quickly go to his knees to make the save.

    Northwestern did well to combat some additional pressure from the hosts over the final 20 minutes of the half, with Miller making one more stop to finish with three before intermission.

    Seven minutes into the second stanza, a Northwestern foul outside the top left corner of the box provided the Gamecocks with good position from which to put the ensuing free kick on goal. USC's Niklas Kivinen nearly did just that, but his curling attempt over the Wildcats wall dipped just over the crossbar to keep the NU shutout intact.

    Northwestern worked to find a go-ahead goal, setting up shop on the offensive end and earning six second-half corners compared to the Gamecocks' three.

    The final minute of regulation nearly saw both teams steal a victory, beginning when a collision in the box drew calls from South Carolina for a penalty kick but instead was determined to be a handball against USC. Miller quickly rocketed the ball to the other end of the field with 15 seconds remaining, setting up a high cross lofted into the penalty area that slipped through the fingers of Gamecocks goalie Alex Long. No Wildcats were able to get to the loose ball, however, before it was cleared by the USC defense at the final whistle.

    In the second overtime period, senior Nick Gendron got behind the USC back line and was on the receiving end of a bending, left-footed cross from a Wildcat midfielder at the far post. Gendron one-timed his volley attempt on frame, but USC's Long was able to slide across the goal-mouth and be there in time to deny Gendron on the doorstep.

    "We finished second place in a very high-level tournament with four really good teams," Lenahan said. "We would have liked to have won the game, but today we really didn’t have the energy necessary and I think we were just absolutely drained from playing in really difficult conditions as far as the heat was concerned. In the end, we grinded it out, we battled and got a 0-0 draw on the road against a good team, which will probably help us down the road when it comes RPI time. South Carolina was probably a little bit better than us on the day but we’ll take the draw and head on back."

    Next week, Northwestern will make the short trip to DeKalb, Ill., to compete in the annual NIU Tournament at Northern Illinois. The Wildcats open play against Drake University at 2 p.m. Friday.


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