After a win over Rutgers in a play-in game for the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern men’s soccer fell 4-1 to Michigan in the quarterfinals, ending a 7-12 (1-7 B1G) season.
The tournament – which took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan – started on a high note on Saturday, when NU won 3-2 over Rutgers in the 8- vs. 9-seed play-in game.
Tommy Katsiyiannis led the way with two goals, and Mac Mazzola added the third as the ‘Cats tied their season high in goals. Katsiyiannis struck first in the 33rd minute with a goal from the left side of the box that the Rutgers keeper just missed as it bounced off his fingertips into the net.
The ‘Cats struggled a bit on defense in the first half, allowing 12 shots, but Robbie White held strong in goal with four saves, keeping the Scarlet Knights off the board.
After the break, Mazzola took a pass from Ty Seager and placed the ball perfectly in the lower right corner of the net to take a 2-0 lead in the 49th minute. Fifteen minutes later, Katsiyiannis seemed to put the game out of reach with his second goal, this one a flick from ten yards away.
Rutgers, however, was not finished yet.
Only thirty seconds later, Rutgers got on the board with a goal by Niel Guzman, and they scored once more on a 79th minute header by Ryan Peterson. Their late push wasn’t enough, though, as the ‘Cats defense came back to life for the final minutes and clung to their 3-2 lead to advance in the tournament.
Sadly for Northwestern, most Big Ten teams aren’t Rutgers.
Michigan, the top seed in the tournament and No. 12 in the country, didn’t have much trouble with the Wildcats.
Both offenses started slow, but Francis Atuahene gave the Wolverines the first goal when he tapped in a long throw down the right side. Atuahene’s goal was the only one of the first half, and the ‘Cats looked like they had a shot at keeping the game close. Sure enough, just a few minutes after halftime, Katsiyiannis struck again, beating the goalie to tie the game at one with 40 minutes to play.
The run didn’t last, however, as Michigan responded quickly and soundly to Katsiyiannis’s equalizer. Jack Hallahan scored a 56th minute goal, placing it perfectly in the top left corner of the box to retake the lead. It didn’t stop there, as Robbie Mertz scored for Michigan seven minutes later, then Hallahan put the nail in the coffin with his second goal in the 79th minute.
The 4-1 lead was too much to overcome as NU failed to generate much offense and watched their season end.
Five seniors will graduate after a somewhat disappointing season, but the ‘Cats certainly hope that the many key returning players can bring a bounceback season next fall.