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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Men’s Soccer: Mayer brothers bolster No. 13 Northwestern’s backline

Micah Sandy/Daily Senior Staffer
Freshman defender Bryant Mayer smiles at his brother Reese Mayer after No. 13 Northwestern beat Ohio State on Sunday.

Locked in a 1-1 stalemate with Ohio State at Martin Stadium Sunday, No. 13 Northwestern collected a 34th minute corner kick, needing a statement play to pull ahead and capture the game’s momentum.

As the ball swung beyond the six-yard box, freshman defender Bryant Mayer soared above his Buckeye marker and headed home a back post go-ahead-goal. Arms outstretched, the freshman broke out his signature dance before his teammates joined him by the right touchline.

“We’re such a brotherhood here, (and) everyone fights for each other,” Bryant Mayer said. “To score is to get one for the team, it’s not just for myself.”

After Bryant Mayer’s set piece score, the Wildcats never relinquished their advantage, cruising to a 4-2 win to mark their first home conference-opening win since 2015. The positive result wouldn’t have been possible without the NU backline, which locked in following an early concession and held a pacey attacking pack in check for the bulk of the match. 

While Bryant Mayer logged 90 minutes at right back, his brother, graduate student defender Reese Mayer, played a pivotal role in Sunday’s central defense. The Notre Dame graduate transfer won a bevy of challenges deep in the defensive third and provided a vocal presence — both on and off the pitch.

“I’m an energy guy — I’m screaming every single play, sometimes to a fault,” Reese Mayer said. 

Sunday marked the fifth occasion that the brothers both made coach Russell Payne’s starting XI, but the team’s Mayer tandem was months in the making.

When Payne gave Bryant Mayer an offer to join the ‘Cats prior to his junior year at the McDonogh School in Baltimore County, Md., the defender consulted his parents. His mother, an associate judge for the Eighth District Court in Baltimore County, swiftly issued her ruling.

“I (asked), what are you waiting for,” Stacy Mayer said. “There’s no better opportunity; it’s an incredible school and an incredible program. Our hearts burst with pride.”

At the time of his commitment in September 2021, the Mayer’s middle son — Jake Mayer — began his collegiate career in a Patriot League title season at Loyola Maryland, while Reese Mayer and Notre Dame launched an ACC Championship campaign.

Flash forward a year and a half later, and Payne began discussions with the eldest Mayer. Before the coach officially turned the former Fighting Irish midfielder and defender into a Wildcat, he made sure to hold transparent talks with the whole Mayer family, according to Reese Mayer.

“I love coach Payne, love the guys they had, and was like ‘let’s make it happen,’” Reese Mayer said. “Getting to play with your brother is something that you’ll never get the opportunity to do. It’s an experience that I’ll cherish every day.”

Entering Evanston for the preseason, Reece Mayer told his younger brother that he knew what he was capable of. It wasn’t enough to have a roster slot, he had to push for playing time whenever he took the field. 

With their 4.5-year age difference, Reece and Bryant Mayer had never taken the field as teammates, but their chemistry quickly shone, adding to the fabric of NU’s young, dynamic squad.

“The Mayer brothers are amazing,” Payne said. “They fight like brothers every day in the field and the locker room, but it actually makes all of us better because they’re just competitors. They hold each other to a higher standard and hold the team to a really high standard.”

From playing just 10 minutes in the team’s first scrimmage against Marquette, Bryant Mayer consistently turned in eye-catching displays that demanded an elevated role. Meanwhile, Reese Mayer recovered from a preseason injury that caused him to miss NU’s first two games and became an instant plug-in starter alongside sophomore defender Nigel Prince.

Through nine games unbeaten, the brothers have helped build the program’s best start since 2008, but even still, neither defender is satisfied. Reese Mayer joked that Bryant is the only Mayer brother to never win a major title, and he came to NU to “get Bryant a ring.”

The youngest Mayer repeated that winning a championship remains firm in the back of his mind.

“This team has so much potential — you’ve seen in every game, we’ve gotten better and better,” Bryant Mayer said. “The goal here is go win a Big Ten Championship and then go win a national championship. We’re plenty capable of doing it.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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