After finishing the regular season 8-7-2 overall and 3-3-2 in conference play, Northwestern men’s soccer will host Maryland (9-6-2, 3-3-2) Sunday at 1 pm in the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals.
The Wildcats are the fourth seed in the tournament and are the final team to host a game. They finished Big Ten play strong by earning points in their final three contests, going 2-0-1 to secure a top-four finish. Before a win over Rutgers on October 20 that keyed the mini run, Tim Lenahan’s squad had been winless for nearly a month and sat at just 1-3-1 in the conference standings.
Northwestern needed every point and tiebreaker to land the fourth seed. The ‘Cats ended the season tied with Maryland at 11 points, but by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker, Northwestern leapfrogged the Terps thanks to its 3-1 victory early in the season.
It was this goal below from Northwestern senior Matt Moderwell that lifted NU over Michigan State in the 90th minute to secure a win and three critical points in their second-to-last B1G contest. The Spartans finished the regular season with 10 points, making this goal that much more significant.
The Wildcats could only muster a 0-0 tie against struggling Wisconsin in a game shortened due to snowy conditions. Nevertheless, the one point earned in their final conference contest was enough to get the job done.
Scoring still has not been the Wildcats’ forte, as they’re averaging just 1.35 goals per game, a statistic nicely buoyed by a 7-0 win over Marian. However, this season represents a significant improvement from last year, when they went winless in conference play and struggled mightily to find the back of the net.
Moderwell leads the team in scoring with five goals and 16 points, and sophomore Bardia Kimiavi is second with four goals and 10 points. The Virginia native has been a key catalyst since coming back from injury. Both Moderwell and Kimiavi scored in the ‘Cats 3-1 win at Maryland on September 20. Senior Ty Seager, NU’s third-leading scorer, also scored in that game.
The Terrapins, though not quite at their national championship level from a year ago, recorded four wins over ranked opponents this year, including a 3-0 shutout over B1G-best Indiana. Their attack is balanced — their top two scorers, Eli Crognale and Eric Matzelevich, have 11 points each and the third-leading scorer has 10. Matzelevich leads Maryland with five goals and Crognale is the assists leader with five.
The winner will earn a spot in the conference semifinals, which will be hosted in College Park, Maryland on November 15.