All posts by nickhennion2019

Indiana, Michigan Win Big Ten Tournament Final Berths

By Nicholas Hennion
Medill Reports

The Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan Wolverines will battle for Sunday’s Big Ten Tournament title after dispatching Maryland and Wisconsin, respectively, in the semifinals on Friday.

Indiana, the number one seed, won Friday’s early game 1-1, advancing 4-3 on penalty kicks. In the other semifinal, an early penalty kick for Michigan proved to be the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory.

The Hoosiers and Wolverines last played on October 7, with Indiana winning a crucial road game 1-0 on a Rece Buckmaster goal.

But Friday, it was Buckmaster’s defensive counterpart, senior Andrew Gutman, who stole the show. Gutman scored Indiana’s lone goal of the day after an incredible individual display of skill gave the Hoosiers a 1-0 lead. Gutman dribbled through almost eight defenders on his way to his 10th goal of the season.

After the game, Gutman said that irrespective of the opponent Sunday, Indiana needed to focus on one team – itself.

“We just have to play our game on Sunday,” Gutman said. “We don’t change what we do for other teams. We are who we are and if we play well, hopefully we can get a trophy on Sunday.”

Head Coach Todd Yeagley  – voted Big Ten Coach of the Year before the start of the tournament, said that his side definitely controlled the game against Maryland, and will look to do more of the same against Michigan.

“Michigan has a few more play-makers and will definitely open the field up,” Yeagley said. “Our guys will be ready, and we just have to go out there and execute our game.”

The Hoosiers will enter Sunday’s match with one of the hottest teams in the country, after winning all 10 games against Big Ten opposition this season. Indiana boasts four first team All-Big Ten players and is unbeaten in the last 37 regular season matches against Big Ten opponents.

But even though the Hoosiers haven’t lost a Big Ten match since 2015, the last time they won the Big Ten Tournament was 2013.

Additionally, out of the three games this season where Indiana failed to score first, the Hoosiers only won once. On the flip side, Indiana is now 16-0-0 when scoring first this season.

Their opponent, the University of Michigan Wolverines, boasts an equally impressive record when it comes to scoring first. The Wolverines are now 12-0-0 when notching the first goal, meaning that Sunday’s final will almost certainly come down to who scores first.

Michigan last won the Big Ten Tournament title in 2010 and finished the regular season in third place, behind only Indiana and Wisconsin. The maize and blue are headlined by two prolific attackers – junior Jack Hallahan and sophomore Umar Farouk Osman. Hallahan was voted first team All-Big Ten with eight goals and eight assists, while Osman was a second team All-Big Ten player with nine goals and three assists.

Having upset the Wisconsin Badgers, the Wolverines will try to do what no Big Ten team has done this season – beat the Indiana Hoosiers.

Head Coach Chaka Daley recognizes that winning is a challenge. Yet, if any team can do it, it’s his, he said.

“The first thing we need to do is relax,” Daley said. “But I think we’ve learned from some of the games throughout the year that didn’t go our way, and now we can try to be more competitive.”

A Michigan win on Sunday would be somewhat of a surprise. As referenced earlier, Michigan lost its only game against the Hoosiers this season and hasn’t beaten the Hoosiers since 2013. Additionally, Michigan is 0-2-1 against ranked opponents this season.

That said, Michigan is coming off a game where it allowed zero shots on goal and severely limited Wisconsin’s chances. Daley added that a win on Sunday will start with the back four, and the defense will need to replicate the performance it produced Friday.

“Our guys in the back did a great job of competing and winning battles,” Daley said after the Wisconsin victory. “They played very well and will need to do so again on Sunday.”

Michigan’s defense enters Sunday’s match with an outstanding defensive record. The Wolverines have allowed only the second fewest goals in Big Ten play this season. The team that allowed the fewest? Indiana.

An Indiana win on Sunday will be the side’s 13th Big Ten Tournament title, while a win for Michigan will represent the Wolverines’ second tournament title. Fans can catch the Big Ten Tournament final Sunday at noon eastern time on Big Ten Network and BTN2Go.

“Photo at top:  Left – Indiana defender Rece Buckmaster goes up for a header against Maryland. Right – Michigan forward Jack Hallahan controls the ball against a waiting Wisconsin defender. (Nick Hennion/Medill)

Northwestern Wins First Game in 47 Days on Senior Night

By Nicholas Hennion

It had been 46 days and 11 games since the Northwestern University men’s soccer team played a winning match.

But Friday on senior night against Division III opponent Concordia-Chicago, the Wildcats ended that winless streak with a 6-0 beatdown of the Cougars in addition to honoring the squad’s six seniors.
Head Coach Tim Lenahan knew, coming into the game, that his side would generate a lot of chances to put the ball in the back of the net.

“Looking at the schedule and how difficult it was all year, we really wanted to have a game where we could have the ball a little bit more,” Lenahan said. “ Continue reading

Wildcats fall to Wisconsin Badgers in first winless Big Ten season since 2003

By Nicholas Hennion
Medill Reports

Northwestern University men’s soccer entered Wednesday’s matchup against Wisconsin University with a win in at least one Big Ten game in 15 straight seasons.

But last night’s match broke that streak in Northwestern’s last Big Ten game of the season. The Wildcats fell to the Badgers 2-1 in double overtime after a game-winning goal from Wisconsin’s Noah Melick resigned Northwestern to its first winless Big Ten season since 2003. Continue reading

Northwestern battles to 1-1 draw against hometown foe DePaul

By Nicholas Hennion
Medill Reports

Northwestern University simultaneously continued both a winning and losing streak after a 1-1 draw against Chicago opponent DePaul University last Tuesday.

The Wildcats are now winless – with a draw or a loss – in their last eight games (including Friday’s loss to Rutgers) against all opponents this season and haven’t picked up a win in over a month. On the flip side, the Wildcats are unbeaten – either a win or a draw – in the last five games against Chicago opponents over the past year.

Head Coach Tim Lenahan said the budding rivalry between the Wildcats and DePaul’s Blue Demons absolutely brings out the best of both sides.

“It’s always a fight,” Lenahan said. “The records go out the window and whether it’s UIC, Loyola or DePaul, it’s always a battle.” Continue reading

Wildcats winless streak continues in scoreless draw with Penn State

By Nicholas Hennion
Medill Reports

Northwestern University’s soccer struggles continued Saturday night as the Wildcats failed to find the back of the net in a pivotal Big Ten matchup against Penn State, with the game ending in a 0-0 draw.

Entering the fixture on a three-game losing streak, the Wildcats are now 0-4-2 for the team’s last six contests. A win on Saturday would have moved the Wildcats into a tie with Penn State’s Nittany Lions in the Big Ten standings.

Even though the Wildcats offense produced no goals, head coach Tim Lenahan saw positive steps from his side.

“For most of the game, our side was the protagonist,” Lenahan said. “Up until overtime, we really dictated the tempo.”

Even in a scoreless game, the Wildcats created plenty of quality scoring chances. Junior Sean Lynch and sophomore Tommy Katsiyiannis generated quality opportunities in the first half for the Wildcats, who held the opposition without a shot on target in the opening frame.

The best chance for either side came in the 58th minute for the Wildcats. Forward Jose Del Valle fired a shot from a tight angle that rebounded to Bardia Kimiavi, who then forced Penn’s State keeper to make another save. A third shot on target from midfielder Connor McCabe earned the Wildcats one of its six corners.

The overtime frame proved to be difficult for the Wildcats, who were outshot 7-3 during those 20 minutes of play, though nobody scored. Lenahan said the Wildcats seemed to lose focus and weren’t very sharp.

“I think we lost our discipline and we played tired,” Lenahan said. “You want to stay disciplined and find your chances, but we were pretty well outplayed in overtime.”

The man of the match for the Wildcats was certainly goalkeeper Miha Miskovic, who recorded his seventh shutout of the season. Miskovic finally faced a shot on target in the 71st minute of the match and ended the night with four saves.

The sophomore said the team’s defense was solid all night in terms of denying Penn State quality opportunities.

“The guys in front of me didn’t allow many shots [tonight],” Miskovic said. “I do my part, and they do their part to help earn a clean sheet.”

Lenahan said having a year under his belt has proved beneficial for Miskovic, who currently sits tied for 3rd nationally with his seven shutouts.

“He’s been terrific for us [all year],” Lenahan said. “He sometimes toes the line between calm and too casual. I know it’s part of his personality, but I like the calm, I don’t like the casual.”

After starting in only four games last season, Miskovic has seen his save percentage rise 12 percentage points from 64.3 percent to 76.5 and his goals against average fall to under a goal per game.

Even with Miskovic recording seven shutouts, the Wildcats find themselves under .500 for the first time this season. Northwestern has not recorded a winning season since 2014.

Northwestern will have its first chance to get back to .500 Tuesday against DePaul University with its next Big Ten matchup Friday at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Photo at top: Northwestern Goalie Miha Miskovic takes a goal kick in a 0-0 draw against Penn State.(nusports.com)