Nov. 25, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
Oliver Kupe picked a fine time to record the first two goals of his collegiate career. The freshman tied the match midway through the second half and then got the game-winner with just 1:14 remaining in regulation as the Wildcats stunned host and No. 12 seed Notre Dame 2-1 in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Tournament Tuesday evening at Alumni Field.
With the comeback victory, NU advances to take on the winner of the match between fifth-seeded Akron and Ohio State. The match between the Zips and the Buckeyes which was originally scheduled to be played Tuesday was postponed until Wednesday due to weather.
Northwestern (14-4-3) will face the winner either Saturday or Sunday at a time and site to be determined.
"Oliver really stepped up and made two big plays," Wildcat head coach Tim Lenahan said. "He gave them some problems with his athleticism.
"This is a great win for us and a great win for this program."
Notre Dame controlled possession early and recorded three shots on goal in the first nine minutes of the match, but Misha Rosenthal made a trio of easy saves.
The Wildcats eventually settled in and created some quality chances of its own. Cody Stanley narrowly missed high and NU earned a pair of corner kicks, but the visitors were unable to convert.
The Fighting Irish eventually were able to cash in at 23:01 to take the lead. On a counter attack, Notre Dame narrowly missed on an attempt at a header but Michael Thomas was able to chase the ball down at the goal line and fired a feed back to the top of the box to a wide-open Jack Traynor. The senior defender bent a perfect shot into the far right corner of the net to give the hosts the lead.
Notre Dame had another great chance with seven and half minutes left in the first half as an initial shot from a tough angle clanged off the post and Rosenthal was able to make a save on the rebound shot.
Northwestern had a pair of good scoring chances in the final three minutes of the half as Carl Pett missed high on a shot and Eamon O'Neill had a shot from 15 yards out blocked with a minute left. The Irish made one final charge as Traynor had his initial shot blocked and his ensuing attempt was saved by Rosenthal as the half expired.
Rosenthal made six saves in the opening 45 minutes of play as Notre Dame had an 11-4 edge in shots.
"We really hung on in the first half," Lenahan said. "It was disappointing to give up that goal, but we dodged a few bullets and they let us hang around."
The Wildcats were unable to mount any sort of offense through the opening 20 minutes of the second half as it didn't record a single shot, but that all changed in a hurry. Brian Usinger was able to win the ball at the midfield and played a perfect through ball to Oliver Kupe. The freshman made a move around Notre Dame keeper Phillip Tuttle and then fired a blast into the back of the net for his first collegiate goal to tie the game.
The goal boosted Northwestern as it thoroughly dominated the remainder of the second half.
The match appeared headed for overtime, but the Wildcats had other thoughts. Again it was the duo of the senior Usinger and the freshman Kupe hooking up. With just over a minute left, Usinger chipped the ball into the box for Kupe who used his height and athleticism to head home the game-winner with just 74 seconds remaining.
Notre Dame held a 15-11 edge in shots with Rosenthal tying his season high with seven saves. Tuttle came up with two saves for the Irish.