Nov. 5, 2010
Northwestern (8-6-2, 2-2-1 Big Ten) vs. Michigan (10-4-3, 3-2-0)
Saturday, Nov. 14, 2010
Lakeside Field (2,500)
Evanston, Ill. 5 p.m.
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern brings its regular season to a close Saturday evening as it hosts Michigan on Senior Night at Lakeside Field. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. The Wildcats have a chance at earning the No. 2 seed for next week's Big Ten tournament with a victory.
In order to be seeded second, NU would need to defeat Michigan, have Indiana defeat Ohio State and either have Penn State lose to Wisconsin or finish with a better goal differential than the Nittany Lions in conference play. Penn State is currently even in goal differential (8-8), while the Wildcats are minus-one (9-10).
The Wildcats jumped out a two-goal lead but were unable to make it hold up in falling 3-2 at Indiana last Sunday. The Hoosiers were able to clinch the Big Ten regular-season title in the process. NU got on the board first on a header by Connor Holloway following a throw-in in the 41st minute. Matt Eliason assisted on the play to earn his 81st career point, setting the Northwestern all-time record. The 'Cats extended their lead to 2-0 just 17 seconds into the second half on Oliver Kupe's team-leading eighth goal of the season following a long service from Jack Hillgard. However, Indiana got two goals from Will Bruin and then the game-winner from Joe Tolen in the 80th minute to earn the comeback victory.
The Wolverines (10-4-3, 3-2-0 Big Ten) are coming off a 3-2 overtime win over No. 23 Michigan State last Saturday. Hamoody Saad scored with 1:24 left in the first overtime. Freshman Soony Saad leads the Wolverines with 14 goals, while Justin Meram has eight goals and seven assists to his credit. In goal, Chris Blais sports a 1.40 goals-against average and a .747 save percentage.
Michigan pulled out a 1-0 win with a goal by Matt Schmitt in the second minute of double overtime Nov. 1 of last season in Ann Arbor.
Junior forward Oliver Kupe has established himself as one of the top offensive threats in the Big Ten. His eight goals so far this season lead the Wildcats. A year ago, Kupe tied for the conference lead with seven assists. He notched his second career two-goal game Sept. 10 in a 4-0 win over Cleveland State en route to being named the MVP of the NIU adidas/Magnuson Inn Invitational.
Forward Matt Eliason has been recognized by multiple organizations as he competes in his final season at Northwestern. The Lombard, Ill., native was a preseason second-team All-America selection of College Soccer News and was one of 39 individuals named to the watch list for the Hermann Trophy which honors the nation's top collegiate soccer player. He has also been named a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award which recognizes senior student-athletes for their contributions both on and off the field.
Eliason's Record-Setting Career
Matt Eliason has earned his preseason recognition based on what he has accomplished over his first three seasons at Northwestern. A two-time All-Big Ten first team and the All-Great Lakes Region second team selection, he surpassed Jonathan Hall (1986-89) for first in school history with his 31st career goal against Oregon State Sept. 12. Eliason's 13 goals last season led the Big Ten. His assist on Northwestern's first goal at Indiana Oct. 31 gave him 81 career points, surpassing Hall and Gerardo Alvarez (2003-06) for the school's all-time record. Eliason has also gotten the job done in the classroom as he was named an ESPN the Magazine Second-Team Academic All-American and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar a year ago.
Head Coach Tim Lenahan
Tim Lenahan is in his 10th season at the helm at Northwestern as the architect of a program that has undergone a metamorphosis from an also-ran to a national power. He inherited a program that had won a total of four Big Ten matches in the 10 years prior to his arrival and turned it into one that has reached the NCAA tournament in five of the last six seasons. The team has advanced to the NCAA quarterfinal round two of the last four years. Lenahan has an 100-75-24 record at Northwestern and is 226-143-42 mark in 21 seasons overall as a head coach. A 1983 graduate of Richard Stockton College, Lenahan coached for eight seasons at his alma mater and for three more at Lafayette before coming to Evanston.
Kotler Steps In
NU's goalkeepers in 2010 have some big shoes to fill as they replace the graduated Misha Rosenthal, the school's all-time leader with 29 shutouts. After starting the first two matches on the bench, junior Drew Kotler has admirably taken over. His 0.84 goals-against average and .796 save percentage both rank second in the Big Ten. Kotler has four shutouts this season and recorded a career-high 11 saves against Notre Dame Sept. 29. He missed the team's most recent match at Indiana due to injury.
Youth is Being Served
The 'Cats have started as many as five freshmen at the same time this year. Layth Masri, Lepe Seetane and Reed Losee have appeared in all 16 matches, while Scott Lakin has played in 15 and Connor Holloway 14. Losee has two goals and is third on the team lead with three assists. Seetane has notched two goals and an assist, while Masri has contributed a goal and two assists. Holloway tallied his first career goal at Indiana last Sunday and Lakin has one helper to his credit.
The Drive for Five
Last year's senior class at Northwestern accomplished something no other class in school history had done--reach the NCAA tournament each year of their collegiate careers. The Wildcats are seeking their fifth straight NCAA appearance in 2010. All five of Northwestern's NCAA tournament appearances have come in the last six seasons (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). This year's group of seniors has 46 career victories to their credit, six shy of the top mark in school history of 52 wins set by last year's squad.
Wildcats Picked Third in Big Ten Preseason Poll
Northwestern was tabbed to finish third in the Big Ten this season in a preseason poll of the conference's head coaches. Defending champ Ohio State was the coaches' choice to remain atop the Big Ten, followed by Indiana. Penn State tied the Wildcats for third place, followed by Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin, respectively. The second-place finish by the Wildcats' a year ago was the best in program history. NU's 3-2-1 mark against conference foes matched the 2004 and 2007 teams for the program's best Big Ten record in a season.
Jones Joins Coaching Staff
Neil Jones has joined the Wildcats' coaching staff this season, replacing Andy Fleming who left to become the head coach at Xavier. A 2004 graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Jones spent the last four years as an assistant coach at his alma mater, including helping the Gauchos to the 2006 national championship. A four-year starter at UCSB, Jones amassed 28 goals and 16 assists during his career. A native of Auckland, New Zealand, Jones has also spent time competing at the national level as a member of New Zealand's National Team. He earned his first two full international caps playing for New Zealand's World Cup squad and scored two goals in the Kiwi's win over Tahiti during the OFC Nation's Cup. Jones also played in the U-17 World Cup Finals with the national team.
Play gets underway Thursday, Nov. 11 at the Big Ten tournament hosted by Penn State in University Park, Pa. Check NUsports.com for Northwestern's opponent and game time.
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