EVANSTON, IL – Gerardo Alvarez’s goal at midway through the first half broke a 1-1 tie and held up as Northwestern defeated UNC Greensboro, 2-1, in the third round of the 2006 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament on Sunday afternoon.
The loss marked the third straight season that the Spartans (16-8-1) were eliminated from the tournament in the Round of 16. All three of UNCG’s matches in the tournament were decided by 2-1 scores.
“It was not our typical performance,” said UNCG coach Michael Parker. “It was an unusual place to place (with the wind coming off Lake Michigan next to the field). We never got into our flow and that’s because of a couple of things - it being an unusual place to play, the cold, windy conditions and the way Northwestern played us.”
“We peaked at the right time this season but unfortunately not today,” said Parker. “We had a good season and I’m very proud of these boys.”
The Wildcats (14-7-0) got on the board early after a handball was called in the box against UNCG, awarding a penalty kick attempt. At the 8:07 mark, Brian Usinger sent the penalty kick to the left as UNCG keeper Nate Berry, who stopped a penalty kick in UNCG’s win over West Virginia on Wednesday night, guessed wrong this time and went to the right. The kick found the net, giving Northwestern an early 1-0 lead.
However, the Spartans answered right back less than a minute later. At 8:50, senior Scott Jones, the hero of UNCG’s first two tournament wins, sent a cross right to the head of Michael FitzGerald, who headed in his 10th goal of the season to tie the match.
Northwestern scored again at the 22:15 mark to regain the lead. With the wind in his favor, Gerardo Alvarez blasted a shot from 30 yards out to the top left corner to give the Wildcats a lead they would not surrender.
The Spartans almost tied it up at the 57:07 mark. Mike Richardson’s cross found the head of FitzGerald but the attempt hit the post and bounced back out to a Northwestern defender for the clear.
UNCG had three shots at goal in the final five minutes, two saved by Northwestern’s Justin Pines. However, after coming up with late game heroics in each of their first two tournament victories, there was no third cardiac performance.
UNCG's senior class finished with 61 wins in its four years, to go along with its three trips to the NCAA Tournament round of 16.
Northwestern will play at UC Santa Barbara next weekend.
UNC Greensboro...... 1 0 - 1
Northwestern........ 2 0 - 2
SCORING SUMMARY: NU Usinger (penalty kick), 8:07; UNCG FitzGerald (Jones), 8:50; NU Alvarez, (unassisted), 22:17. Shots: UNC Greensboro 16, Northwestern 14. Saves: UNC Greensboro 3 (Berry 3), Northwestern 4 (Pines 4). Corner Kicks: UNC Greensboro 5, Northwestern 4. Fouls: UNC Greensboro 14, Northwestern 9.
- UNCG -