Men’s Soccer: Northwestern earns second consecutive point in Big Ten play, draws No. 8 Maryland 1-1


Eugenia Cao/The Daily Northwestern

Junior midfielder Joseph Arena kicks the ball.

Alex Cervantes, Assistant Sports Editor

Sixty minutes into Northwestern’s 1-1 draw against No. 8 Maryland on Sunday, the door the Wildcats (1-6-4, 0-3-2 Big Ten) had been knocking on all game swung open.

Streaking down the right flank, graduate student midfielder Bardia Kimiavi received a pass, took two touches and chipped a ball across the face of goal. 

The cross initially sailed just beyond freshman forward Christopher Thaggard, but sophomore midfielder Paul Son was there to redirect it. His effort was knocked down by a Maryland defender, but Thaggard arrived just in time, tapping the ball into the back of the net for his first career collegiate goal.

Thaggard’s emergence couldn’t have come at a better time. NU’s leading goal scorer, junior forward Justin Weiss, and leader in assists, senior midfielder Vicente Castro, are both sidelined due to injury. Thaggard bagged the opener in Weiss’ typical position up front. 

“Thaggard’s first goal of the season was huge,” graduate student defender Ethan Dudley said. “(He’s a) 17-year-old, it’s pretty impressive what he’s able to do to step up and do a guy like Justin’s role. I’m really proud of him.”

In just his third start of the season, Thaggard became the ninth Cat to score a goal in 2022. He notched NU’s only score in a game where the Terrapins outshot the Cats 15-8 – including seven to three shots on goal. 

Coach Russell Payne heralded Thaggard’s work effort navigating his first season in Evanston. 

“Now you’re starting to see him settle in and gain confidence,” Payne said. “Initially, it’s really hard to figure out how to help somebody that comes in and is just trying to figure everything out. … We know how to help him specifically (now), and I’m really proud of him today.”



NU’s backline successfully stymied Maryland’s attacking options for most of the match. The Terrapins entered the game second in the Big Ten in goals scored (21), and their roster boasts two of the top-10 goalscorers in the conference — neither of whom scored Sunday. 

Dudley said that both pregame film studies and the backline’s concerted effort to defend as a group led to the solid performance this weekend.

“It’s all about everyone defending as a collective unit (and) moving as a unit,” Dudley said. “It’s my job to communicate that to make sure everyone is kind of on a string with me in the back, side-to-side, back-to-front, keeping everything tight.”

After falling to a 1-0 deficit, the Terrapins ramped up their attacking pressure. With just a quarter of the match left, the Cats caught an unlucky break. A Maryland cross inside the six-yard box bounced once before finding Stefan Copetti at the back post. He dove, leading the ball to ricochet up and sneak into the opposite side netting to bring the game level, 1-1. 

The score would hold even for the rest of the game, despite some late attacking forays from both squads. 

NU looks now to a midweek road trip against Northern Illinois before resuming Big Ten play at Ohio State next Sunday. Following a pair of consecutive draws against ranked opponents, the Cats have something to build on with the Big Ten Tournament fast approaching.

“We’re getting better,” Payne said. “We’re finding more moments of play … We’re creating a lot of chances because we’re a little more composed, and we’re confident in our play.”

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Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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