Men’s Soccer: Northwestern gears up for clash with Maryland in first round of Big Ten Tournament


Daily file photo by Katie Chen

Graduate student midfielder Bardia Kimiavi. One of several returners from last year’s squad, Kimiavi will look to replicate Northwestern’s 2021 upset victory over Maryland as the two teams meet again in the Big Ten Tournament.

Alex Cervantes, Assistant Sports Editor

When Northwestern takes the field Friday evening against Maryland in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, 362 days will have passed since the teams’ last meeting in College Park. 

In that clash, Wildcat goalkeeper Miha Miskovic put on Superman’s cape en route to an all-time 10-save performance, carrying NU to a penalty shootout upset over the second-seeded Terrapins. 

While many of the Cats’ players who starred in last year’s matchup have departed the program, the circumstances surrounding the matchup are similar. 

Like in 2021, NU is once again coming off a nail-biting finish to the regular season in which it narrowly secured postseason qualification. The 7-seed in last year’s contest, the Cats enter Ludwig Field as the underdog – and the 8-seed – again in 2022. Miskovic may no longer be in between the sticks, but graduate student goalkeeper Christian Garner’s heroic reflexes have kept NU above water this season. 

Coach Russell Payne will return to his alma mater in the postseason for a second consecutive time, seeking back-to-back upset victories in College Park.

The Cats and Terrapins met just under a month ago at Martin Stadium in one of NU’s better performances of the season. Freshman forward Christopher Thaggard put the team ahead with his first career goal, but Maryland equalized with just over 15 minutes to play as the squads played to a 1-1 draw. 

Friday’s clash will see the Cats’ backline tested once more — the Terrapins outshot Payne’s side 15-8 in the programs’ previous meeting in 2022. Maryland boasts two of the top goalscorers in the Big Ten in Stefan Copetti and Malcolm Johnston, each with five goals to their name in 2022. 

Garner has been a brick wall at times this season, leading the Big Ten with 4.83 saves per game. Yet he and the Cats have conceded at least one goal in all but one contest this fall. He and the rest of the defense will need another stellar effort to keep the Terrapins at bay.

Still, the underdog status for NU is nothing new and if last year is any indication, Payne’s squad is sure to put up a scrap.

Do you get déjà vu?

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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