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    B1G Champions Ready to Defend Title in 2012

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Junior midfielder Lepe Seetane is one of nine starters returning for 2012.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Junior midfielder Lepe Seetane is one of nine starters returning for 2012.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Aug. 13, 2012

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    EVANSTON, Ill. – After a memorable 2011 campaign that included Big Ten regular season and tournament titles along with the program’s sixth NCAA Tournament appearance, Northwestern is looking for similar success with the 2012 season on the horizon.
     
    The 18-game regular-season schedule begins at Lakeside Field against Xavier at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25. Below are a few notes to get you ready for the 2012 Northwestern men’s soccer season.
     
    Before We Get Started…
    Northwestern plays two exhibition matches prior to the regular season. The Wildcats are currently in New Jersey for training camp and will face two foes that  are receiving votes in the NSCAA Division I Preseason Rankings. First, NU faces Monmouth in Long Branch, N.J., Tuesday, Aug. 14 at 11 a.m. CT and close out the East Coast trip facing Rutgers in Pomona, N.J., Saturday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. CT.
     
    Home Is Where The Heart Is
    In 2011, Northwestern posted a stellar 7-1-2 mark at Lakeside Field. This year, the Wildcats host nine regular-season matches at home and also have the opportunity to defend their Big Ten Tournament title on their home pitch when the 2012 Big Ten Tournament runs from Wednesday, Nov. 7-Sunday, Nov. 11 at Lakeside Field.
     
    Strong Nucleus Returns
    Nine starters return from last year’s Big Ten championship squad, including four All-Big Ten honorees, and reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year Tim Lenahan is back for his 12th season at Northwestern.
     
    Northwestern had a stellar defense in 2011, allowing just 0.90 goals per game and shutting out 10 opponents. The entire backfield returns for the Wildcats, including First-Team All-Big Ten goalkeeper, sophomore Tyler Miller (Woodbury, N.J./Bishop Eustace), Second-Team All-Big Ten defender, sophomore Nikko Boxall (Auckland, New Zealand/Mt. Albert) and senior defender Jarrett Baughman (Bloomington, Ind./North), who is serving as team captain for 2012.
     
    On offense, the ’Cats will have to replace two senior starters including the leading goal-scorer for the last two seasons, Oliver Kupe and midfielder Peter O’Neill. Returnees on offense include midfielders senior Chris Ritter (Winnetka, Ill./New Trier) and junior Lepe Seetane (Maseru, Lesotho/Trinity), who both earned Second-Team All-Big Ten accolades in 2011. Seetane and Ritter were second and third on the team, respectively, in goals during 2011. Senior midfielder Kyle Schickel (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier) led the team in assists in 2011 with six and he also returns for 2012.
     
    Double Trouble
    Last year, Northwestern won the elusive double (Big Ten regular season and tournament titles) for the first time in school history. The Wildcats were unbeaten in Big Ten play (4-0-2) for the first time in school history and kept its conference unbeaten mark alive in the tournament, tying Indiana 1-1 in the semifinals (advanced to the finals on penalty kicks) and defeating Penn State 2-1 in the championship match.
     
    Northwestern’s first conference match in 2012 is against Michigan, the team NU beat in the regular-season finale last year to clinch the Big Ten title. The Wolverines come to town at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, while Ohio State (noon, Sunday, Oct. 14) and Penn State (noon, Sunday, Oct. 21) are the other conference foes that visit Lakeside Field in 2012.
     
    Elite Company
    Northwestern is one of two Big Ten teams ranked in the NSCAA/Continental Tire NCAA Division I Men’s Preseason Rankings that were released last week. NU enters the season ranked No. 20 after finishing 2011 ranked 22nd.
     
    New Faces
    Seven newcomers join the Wildcats for 2012. The group of six freshmen includes goalkeeper Zak Allen (Chicago, Ill./St. Ignatius College Prep), defense/midfield Sagar Jambusaria (Van Nuys, Calif./J Serra Catholic), forward Joey Calistri (Deerfield, Ill./Deerfield), defender Henry Herrill (Altadena, Calif./Loyola), midfielder Cole Missimo (Dallas, Texas/Prestonwood Christian Academy) and defense/midfield Mick Maley (South Elgin, Ill./Marmion Academy). Sophomore goalkeeper Connor Jacobson (Avon, Conn./Loomis Chaffee) also joins the squad as a transfer from Syracuse.

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