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    Northwestern Advances to B1G Tournament Final on PKs

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Nick Gendron scored on the sixth penalty kick attempt for Northwestern, giving the Wildcats the 3-2 advantage to advance to Sunday's final.
    Nick Gendron scored on the sixth penalty kick attempt for Northwestern, giving the Wildcats the 3-2 advantage to advance to Sunday's final.

    Nov. 11, 2011

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    ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Northwestern made another dramatic comeback Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the 2011 Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. The top-seeded Wildcats used an own goal late in the second half to tie No. 4 seed Indiana 1-1 and after two scoreless overtime periods, NU advanced 3-2 after six rounds of penalty kicks. With the tie, NU's unbeaten streak extends to 10 matches and the Wildcats meet the No. seed 7 Penn State in the finals at 11 a.m. CT Sunday.

    "That was a great Indiana team we played," Northwestern head coach Tim Lenahan said. "We've played them twice now and both games were pretty similar in that we kind of went toe-to-toe with each other with nobody really backing down. They went ahead, we were able to battle back and when it comes down to PKs, it's kind of a crapshoot, but certainly, having a goalkeeper like we do, I think made a big difference. I'm really proud of the guys. We fought back against a really good team and I think this tie should be enough to put us into the NCAA tournament, which is important for us."

    Northwestern advances to Big Ten Tournament final for the second time in school history. The last time the Wildcats made it to the finals was in 2004, and coincidentally, the last time the tournament was played in Ann Arbor.

    Indiana jumped out to a 1-0 first-half lead (goal by Eriq Zavaleta) but much like they've done in their current unbeaten streak, the Wildcats used a late second-half goal to even the score at the 76:59 mark. Lepe Seetane (Maseru, Lesotho/Trinity) took a shot from the left side that an IU player tried to clear but the ball bounced off goalie Luis Soffner and into the net. With the goal, Northwestern has now scored 11 second-half goals in the last 10 matches (total of 13 second-half goals on the year) with six of those goals coming in the final 15 minutes.

    Both teams failed to find the back of the net the rest of regulation as the match went into overtime. In the first 10 minutes, each time fired off three shots and IU had the 4-1 advantage in the second overtime, but neither team found the back of the net.

    It all came down to penalty kicks and it took an extra round to eventually determine who would advance to Sunday's final. Freshman goalie Tyler Miller (Woodbury, N.J./Bishop Eustace) saved IU's first two attempts and Reed Losee (Lake Orion, Mich./Lake Orion) gave NU the 1-0 advantage. Northwestern was unable to take a 2-0 lead as Chris Ritter's (Winnetka, Ill./New Trier) shot went high but a third kick by Indiana went wide.

    Soffner saved Kyle Schickel's (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier) attempt and IU evened the PK sore at 1-1 after Jacob Bushue scored on the Hoosiers' fourth try. Northwestern then jumped out to a 2-1 lead as Peter O'Neill (Fairway, Kan./Rockhurst) scored on the fourth attempt but IU came back again, knotting everything up at 2-2.

    With NU unable to put the game away on its fifth attempt, Miller stepped up once again saving IU's sixth shot and Nick Gendron's (Ramsey, N.J./Ramsey) final kick put the Wildcats into the finals.

    Both teams combined for 41 shots in Friday's match as IU had the slight 21-20 advantage. Northwestern had four looks in the first three minutes, two of which hit the crossbar, and finished with eight shots in each half. Oliver Kupe (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston), Seetane and Gendron each had five shots in the match.

    Miller, who was named first-team All-Big Ten last night, saved seven shots, including four in the first period and three in the two overtime periods. IU goalie Luis Soffner saved six NU attempts.

    Friday's match was Northwestern's fourth tie against a ranked opponent this year as Indiana was ranked as high as fifth in the Top Drawer Soccer poll. During the regular season, the Wildcats tied then-No. 7 California, then-No. 12 Notre Dame and the Hoosiers when they were ranked 10th on Oct. 30.

    Northwestern, who won the regular season conference title, goes for the Big Ten sweep Sunday in the finals at 11 a.m. CT. Sunday's match will air live on the Big Ten Network.


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