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    Historic Season Ends in NCAA Tournament

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Peter O'Neill scored on a penalty kick at the 62:09 mark in Thursday's NCAA first round match vs. Akron.
    Peter O'Neill scored on a penalty kick at the 62:09 mark in Thursday's NCAA first round match vs. Akron.

    Nov. 17, 2011

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    WATCH: Match Highlights | Postgame News Conference

    NCAA First Round Match
    Site: Akron, Ohio (FirstEnergy Stadium - Cub Cadet Field)
    Score: Akron 3, Northwestern 1
    Records: Northwestern (11-5-5), Akron (14-3-4)

    AKRON, Ohio - Northwestern's historic season came to an end Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as Akron won 3-1 on its home field at FirstEnergy Stadium on Cub Cadet Field. The Wildcats wrap up the 2011 season with an 11-5-5 overall record and the defending NCAA champions advance to the second round match Sunday vs. No. 6 seed SMU.

    "I thought it was a great game," Northwestern head coach Tim Lenahan said. "Unfortunately it was a game that probably should have been played a few weeks from now, but RPI is a fickle, fickle thing. We lost a game August 26 at home that probably dropped our RPI 10 points, but I thought (today's) game was worthy of a Sweet 16, Elite Eight type of game. I thought the intensity level was played out, the quality of the play, knowing that Akron's a great team, they did a great job of possessing the ball in the first half to get the goal. The last couple of goals came against the run of play. We threw the kitchen sink at them but they made the plays when it counted and they get to move on."

    Despite the loss, the 2011 Northwestern team cements its name in the record book as the first team in program history to win the Big Ten regular season and Big Ten Tournament titles. The team's 11-match unbeaten streak was also the second-longest in school history.

    "For us, we just have to be content with being double champions of the Big Ten, 10 years removed from not winning a (conference) game for two years," Lenahan said. "I'm very proud of our group. There were some tears in the locker room because they knew they gave everything they had. In the end, I thought it was a pretty even game. Chances were about even, they were able to convert theirs and they get to move on."

    Northwestern played into the wind for the first half, which helped Akron maintain possession. The Zips scored on their third attempt of the match as Scott Caldwell shot from 18 yards out and slipped the ball past Tyler Miller into the lower left. Northwestern then had its first look of the match at the 33:55 mark as Oliver Kupe's shot was saved by David Meves. Nick Gendron was there for the rebound but hit the right side of the net.

    NU had another opportunity in the 37th minute as Reed Losee took a free kick from about 25-yards out that was blocked by Akron. Gendron was there again on the rebound but was unable to get a shot off as an Akron defender cleared it.

    The first half had a combined 16 fouls (nine NU, seven Akron) and a number of them came within close range of the 18-yard box. Northwestern was whistled for a foul just outside the box, setting up a free kick for Caldwell but his shot went wide right.

    Akron had the slight 5-4 edge on shots in the first and neither team attempted a corner kick.

    The Wildcats flipped the script in the second with the wind at their backs and controlled the ball for a majority of the half, but Akron's Quinn Akron scored a goal early on to extend its lead to 2-0. The Zips had 11 second-half fouls, which set up more free kick opportunities, but NU was unable to convert.

    Northwestern, who averaged 5.3 corner kicks per game this season, didn't take its first corner until the 61:21 and subsequently resulted in three-straight corners. Akron was whistled for a foul in the box after the third, setting up an NU penalty kick. Peter O'Neill took the kick and put the Wildcats on the board (62:09) as he sailed it in to the bottom right.

    Akron's final goal of the match came at the 76:28 mark as Mattocks sent the ball into the top of the net from a tough angle on the left.

    Both teams finished an even 9-9 on shots as Northwestern had the 5-4 advantage in the second half. NU took the only four corners of the game and both teams combined for 35 fouls (17 for Northwestern, 18 for Akron).

    Thursday's match was Northwestern's sixth NCAA appearance in the last eight seasons, with all of those played during the Tim Lenahan era.


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