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    Northwestern Opens 2011 NCAA Tournament At Akron Thursday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM After winning the Big Ten double (regular season and tournament title), Northwestern turns its attention to the NCAA Tournament, which begins Thursday at Akron.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    After winning the Big Ten double (regular season and tournament title), Northwestern turns its attention to the NCAA Tournament, which begins Thursday at Akron.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Nov. 14, 2011

    2011 NCAA Tournament
    First Round Match
    Northwestern (11-4-5)
    at Akron (13-3-4)
    Thurs., Nov. 17, 2011, 6:30 p.m. CT
    First Energy Stadium - Cub Cadet Field
    Akron, Ohio
    Gametracker: NUsports.com
    Twitter Updates: NU_SportsLive
    Webstream: NCAA.com

    NCAA Tournament Bracket -- NCAA Tournament Digital Program

    Watch the Wildcats Discuss The Matchup with Akron

    NU Men's Soccer Notes Get Acrobat Reader

    EVANSTON, Ill. - After winning the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships, Northwestern now turns its attention to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The official bracket was released today and the Wildcats will meet Akron at 6:30 p.m. CT Thursday in a first-round match at First Energy Stadium at Cub Cadet Field.

    Northwestern is making its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, which have all come during the Tim Lenahan era. The Wildcats first qualified for the tournament in 2004 and have a 7-5-1 record in the postseason. The Wildcats have advanced to the quarterfinals twice (2008 and 2006) and defeated Akron 1-0 in 2008 to advance to the round of 16. The 2008 match against the Zips is the only other time these two teams met in the tournament, but they did meet once during the regular season in 1989.

    Double the Fun
    For the first time in school history, Northwestern achieved the “double”, winning both the regular season and Big Ten Tournament titles in the same year. Coincidentally, both titles came at U-M Soccer Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Wildcats tallied a 1-0 win over Michigan to capture the regular season title on Nov. 5 and then returned to the same field the following week for the Big Ten Tournament. Northwestern had a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed and came back to tie Indiana, 1-1 in the semifinals and eventually advanced to the finals with the 3-2 advantage on penalty kicks. In the finals, the Wildcats fought back from a 1-0 deficit and used two second-half goals to defeat Penn State 2-1 and bring home the second Big Ten title.

    Northwestern was unable to score in the first half in the last three games as all four goals came in the second half. Two of those goals (83:09 vs. Michigan, 76:59 vs. Indiana) came in the final 15 minutes of the match.

    Recapping the Big Ten Tournament
    Northwestern had two exciting matches in this year’s Big Ten Tournament, coming from behind in both to eventually win the title. On Friday, Northwestern scored on an own goal at the 76:59 mark to even the score at 1-1 with Indiana. Sophomore midfielder Lepe Seetane (Maseru, Lesotho/Trinity) shot from the left side of the net but his shot bounced off an Indiana player and then off the IU goalkeeper into the net for the goal. Both teams were scoreless in the two overtime periods so the match went to penalty kicks. IU missed its first three shots as NU goalie Tyler Miller (Woodbury, N.J./Bishop Eustace) made two big saves. NU was only able to take a 1-0 lead on penalty kicks and IU eventually caught up to tie everything at 2-2 and force a sixth round. Miller made another save in the sixth round and Nick Gendron (Ramsey, N.J./Ramsey) scored the game-winning PK to advance NU to the finals.

    In Sunday’s final, Penn State took a 1-0 lead in the first half but NU scored two second-half goals for the tournament title. Penn State was whistled for a foul inside the box in the 65th minute and Peter O’Neill (Fairway, Kan./Rockhurst) converted on the penalty kick, tying things up at 1-1. NU’s leading goal scorer Oliver Kupe (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston) then tallied his eighth goal of the year at the 73:23 mark to give the Wildcats the 2-1 lead and eventual win.

    Kupe and Miller were both named to the all-tournament team as Miller earned Defensive Player of the Tournament honors.

    NCAA Tournament Experience
    Seven Northwestern players have played at least one NCAA tournament game. The players on this year’s roster with tournament experience include Peter O’Neill, Oliver Kupe, Chris Ritter, Kyle Schickel, Jarrett Baughman, Lucas Swertloff and John Rogers.

    Historic Season
    Northwestern has set a number of milestones this season:

    • First time in program history the team recorded four Big Ten wins and finished the conference season unbeaten (4-0-2).
    • First time the ’Cats closed out the regular season on a nine-match (7-0-2) unbeaten streak. The 1988 squad came close, winning eight-straight games to finish the year.
    • First time the team won the Big Ten regular season title and had the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
    • First time Northwestern won the Big Ten Tournament.

    Hard to Beat
    After starting the season 1-3-1, Northwestern is 10-1-4 in its last 15 matches. Since falling 4-0 to DePaul on the road Sept. 28, the Wildcats have not lost a match, and are unbeaten in their last 11 games. Included in that is a five-game winning streak, ties with three ranked opponents and a 2-0 win over Northern Illinois, who was receiving votes at the time of the match. Here’s a look at NU’s first half of the season compared to its 11-match unbeaten streak:

    Last 11 (8-0-3) 
    First 9 (3-4-2)
    Goals:     22 8
    Goals/game:      2.00                  0.89
    Opponent goals:  7    10
    Opp. goals/game: 0.64    1.11
    Shots/game: 11.2                   12.4
    Points: 71 23
    Saves: 38    21

    Shutouts: 

    4
    1st half goals:   6

    2nd half goals: 

    13 2

    Comeback ’Cats
    Northwestern has also been a second half team in its 11-match unbeaten streak, scoring 13 goals in the last 45 minutes. This season, the Wildcats have a total of 15 second half goals. Six of those 13 goals came in the final 15 minutes in key matches for NU. Here’s the list:

    • Oliver Kupe (78:50) – Goal helped NU tie 1-1 with then-No. 12 Notre Dame
    • Lepe Seetane (86:24) – Goal added to NU’s lead over Northern Illinois, Northwestern won 2-0
    • Nick Gendron (75:48) – Goal gave NU 1-0 win over Wisconsin
    • Oliver Kupe (84:54) – Goal helped NU come back to tie then-No. 10 Indiana, 2-2
    • Chris Ritter (83:09) – Goal gave NU 1-0 win over Michigan
    • Own goal (Seetane shot, bounced off Indiana player and goalie into the net, 76:59) – Goal helped NU come back to tie then-No. 9 Indiana, NU eventually advanced 3-2 on PKs.

    Scouting Akron
    The Zips went 13-3-4 during the regular season, including a 6-0-0 MAC record. Akron is the defending NCAA champion and returns four starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s championship squad. Seven starters and 10 letterwinners graduated after the title and this year’s squad has 15 newcomers. The Zips received an at-large bid to this year’s tournament and are making their fifth-straight and 26th total appearance in the NCAA postseason. Sophomore forward Darren Mattocks is Akron’s go-to goal scorer as he has a team-leading 18 goals and 40 points, which is almost double the amount of points as Scott Caldwell, who ranks second on the team with 21 points (five goals, 11 assists). Mattocks is fourth in the NCAA with 0.95 goals per game and sixth with 2.11 points per game. David Meves has started 19 of Akron’s 20 games in net and has a 0.65 goals-against average and a .787 save percentage.

    Last Time vs. Akron
    The Wildcats and Zips last met in 2008 at Lakeside Field in the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern recorded the 1-0 win as then-senior Geoff Fallon scored his first goal of the season with 28:30 remaining to advance NU into the quarterfinals. Akron had the 14-7 advantage in shots, including 12-2 edge in the second half. Current Wildcats Peter O’Neill and Oliver Kupe were both freshmen in 2008 and came off the bench in the victory. Northwestern and Akron met one other time during the 1989 season with the Zips winning 1-0.

    In this Corner...
    Northwestern has more than doubled its competition in corner kicks this season. The Wildcats have 106 total corners compared to just 49 for their opponents. That’s a per-game average of 5.3 corners and 2.5 corners for opponents.

    Tough Schedule
    Four NCAA Tournament teams were on Northwestern’s schedule this year and the Wildcats went 2-0-2 against the field. Northwestern played Xavier on Sept. 18 at the Lakeside Classic and won 2-0. The Wildcats also shut out Northern Illinois 2-0 at Lakeside Field on Oct. 12 and tied with No. 16 seed Indiana twice (2-2, 1-1 in Big Ten Tournament). Northwestern was scheduled to play Loyola Chicago but severe weather in the Evanston area (strong winds and heavy waves) canceled the Oct. 19 match.

    ’Cats/Zips in the Rankings
    Here’s a look at how Northwestern and Akron rank in the latest polls (Note: College Soccer News, Soccer Times are from week of Nov. 7):

    NU         
    Akron
    NSCAA  16  10

    NSCAA Great Lakes Regional   

    2 3

    Soccer America    

    12

    College Soccer News  

    22 7

    NCAA RPI    

    34 30

    Top Drawer Soccer     

    6 14

    Soccer Times

    RV (18) 9

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