Nov. 27, 2009
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Ninth-seeded Northwestern squares off against eight-seeded Tulsa on Sunday in a third-round NCAA tournament match. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. The winner of the contest advances to the quarterfinal round where it faces the winner of the contest between top-seeded Akron and Stanford.
Live streaming video and Gametracker can be accessed via the Northwestern Tournament Central site.
The Wildcats are coming off a 3-1 second-round home win over Notre Dame on Sunday. Jack Hillgard scored a pair of goals, while Piero Bellizzi added another as NU eliminated the Fighting Irish from the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. Eamon O'Neill contributed a pair of assists for Northwestern. Misha Rosenthal was stellar in goal, recording 10 of career-high 11 saves in the second half.
NCAA Tournament History
Northwestern is 7-4-1 all-time in NCAA tournament play. NU has advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals twice (2006, 2008) in the last three seasons, joining Notre Dame and Wake Forest as the only three teams to do so over that time frame. All five of the Wildcats' NCAA tournament berths have come in the last six seasons.
The Golden Hurricane (14-4-2) is 12-1-1 in its last 14 matches following back-to-back losses to Northwestern and Cal State Northridge which left the team with a 2-3-1 record at the time. Austin Neil (12-3-27), Ashley McInnes (9-7-25) and Jose Parada (9-5-23) pace a balanced Tulsa attack which ranks second nationally with an average of 2.40 goals per game. In goal, Andy Aguilar sports a 1.18 goals-against average and a .771 save percentage. Tulsa defeated Saint Louis 4-3 in overtime in a second-round match last Sunday.
Northwestern defeated Tulsa 3-2 in overtime earlier this season on Sept. 13 in DeKalb, Ill., in the only previous meeting between the schools. Matt Eliason
scored two goals in the match, including the sudden-victory winner 8:41 into the first extra session.
Senior defender Mark Blades and junior forward Matt Eliason were each named unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selections when the squads were announced. Eliason leads the Big Ten with 13 goals this season, while Blades has helped the NU defense post six shutouts while contributing four assists. Both players were also named last week to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Season second team. Defender Chris Ritter and midfielder Kyle Schickel were also named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. Schickel was an honorable mention pick to the Top Drawer Soccer All-Freshman Team.
NU vs. the Tournament Field
Northwestern was an impressive 5-1-3 during the regular season against teams in the NCAA tournament field. The Wildcats defeated Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State, Tulsa and Western Illinois while falling to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament and tying Drake, Green Bay and Penn State.
Eliason's Stellar Season
Few players in the nation can boast the season that Northwestern junior forward Matt Eliason has had. A year ago, he was named to the All-Big Ten first team and the All-Great Lakes Region second team after leading the team with 12 goals and 25 points. Eliason has scored 13 goals this season, including seven in the team's first four matches, and was named a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten pick. After scoring two goals apiece against against Oakland and Tulsa Sept. 11 and 13, he was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and Top Drawer Soccer's National Player of the Week. College Soccer News rewarded with another National Player of the Week honor Oct. 26 after he posted game-winning goals against both Loyola Chicago and Indiana. Eliason's 30 career goals are tied with Jonathan Hall (1986-89) for the school record. He has also gotten the job done in the classroom as he was recently named an ESPN the Magazine Second-Team Academic All-American.
Down to the Wire
Of Northwestern's 19 matches this season, 17 have been decided by one goal or less. Only a 2-0 victory over Indiana Oct. 25 and the 3-1 win over Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA tournament are NU's lone matches this season that haven't ended in a tie or a one-goal differential. Eight of the team's matches have gone to overtime, with the Wildcats posting a 2-2-4 record in those contests.
Going Four It
This year's senior class accomplished something no other class in school history has done--reach the NCAA tournament each year of their collegiate careers. All five of Northwestern's NCAA tournament appearances have come in the last five seasons (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). This year's group is also the winningest class in school history having notched 52 wins. The record-breaking victory came in the regular-season finale, a 1-0 win over Michigan State Nov. 7. The 52 wins surpass last year's senior class which won 50 contests.
Reaching New Heights
Picked to finish second in the preseason Big Ten poll, Northwestern finished exactly in that spot, tied with Penn State. The second-place finish is the Wildcats' best in program history. NU's 3-2-1 mark against conference foes matches the 2004 and 2007 teams for the program's best Big Ten record in a season.
Sophomore forward Oliver Kupe has established himself as one of the top table-setters in the Big Ten this season. Kupe is tied with Michigan State's Jeff Ricando for the conference lead with seven assists in 2009. He posted five assists in the team's first four matches this season, recording at least one assist in each of the four contests. Kupe burst on to the scene in the second round of last year's NCAA tournament when he tallied a pair of second-half goals (the first two of his collegiate career) in a 2-1 win at 12th-seeded Notre Dame.
Solid Between the Pipes
Misha Rosenthal came into his senior season having already established himself as the top goalkeeper in Northwestern history. A two-time second-team All-Big Ten pick, he ranks first in school history with 29 shutouts, including a school-record 13 a year ago. Seven of the shutouts came consecutively over one early-season stretch during which NU held its opponents scoreless over an amazing span of 805 minutes and 30 seconds of action. After recording seven saves in a blanking of No. 15 Ohio State, Rosenthal was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He earned the honor again for the second time this season and the fifth time in his career Oct. 26 after he notched shutout wins over Loyola Chicago and Indiana. Rosenthal's 11 saves (10 in the second half) against Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA tournament set a career high. He was named to the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week for his efforts.
The winner of Sunday's contest advances to the quarterfinal round next Sunday where it will take on the winner of the match between top-seeded Akron and Stanford.