UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. - Third-seeded Northwood University and fourth-seeded Tiffin University each pulled of upsets and advanced to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) men's soccer tournament final, which will be played Saturday (Nov. 5) at the Saginaw Valley State University Soccer Complex (1:00 p.m.).
Northwood downed the No. 3 seed, Ohio Dominican University, 4-1, in the first semifinal match of the day. Tiffin knocked off the host and top-seeded Saginaw Valley State University, 2-1, in the second semifinal match.
It is the second time in school history Northwood has reached the tournament finals. The last time was in 2007, when the Timberwolves fell at Gannon in the championship match. [Click here for NU-ODU Box Score]
The win was crucial for Northwood’s NCAA Tournament hopes. The Timberwolves entered the day ranked fourth in the Midwest region, followed immediately by Ohio Dominican in fifth. The top four teams in the region make the tournament.
Northwood got the scoring going in the 30th minute. Matthew Howitt (Peterborough, England) took a feed from D.J. Evans (Saginaw, Mich./Heritage) and beat the keeper from 25 yards out to put NU up 1-0.
Less than two minutes later, the Timberwolves made it 2-0 thanks to a pair of freshmen. Joey Censoni (Rochester, Mich.) got in the box and beat the keeper off another pass from Evans.
That 2-0 lead didn’t last long, as Ohio Dominican drew a penalty from Northwood exactly three minutes after the Censoni goal. ODU’s Casey Weddle converted the chance, which made the score 2-1. The score would remain that way through the rest of the half. The Panthers out-shot Northwood 8-6 and held a 4-0 advantage in corner kicks.
Northwood scored a pair of goals in the second half to earn a trip to the finals. Junior Shaun Rydzewski (Novi, Mich.) picked up a loose ball in the box and converted to make the score 3-1 at 62:28. Evans finished off his strong day with an unassisted goal in the 84th minute.
Tiffin University (10-5-3) allowed a goal on the first shot it
faced in their GLIAC Tournament Semifinal game against top-seeded
Saginaw Valley State (12-4-3), the Midwest Region's second-ranked
team. [Click here for TU-SVSU Box
The goal only seemed to motivate the Dragons more, however, as they did not allow another goal and scored two more to knock out the Cardinals 2-1 and advance to the Championship game Saturday at 1 pm against second-seeded Northwood.
After the Cardinals scored their goal in the 8th minute, TU responded in the 17th minute when Nick Kutch headed home a corner kick by Michael O'Neill to send the game to halftime tied 1-1.
Tiffin held a 10-5 shot edge at the half, including a 7-0 shot barrage in the 24 minutes immediately after the Cardinals' goal as they turned the momentum in their favor.
The Cardinals responded with a 9-4 shot advantage in the final 45 minutes, but Tiffin goalkeeper Jeremy Ashley stepped up once again, making 8 saves to keep the Cardinals off the board.
In the 88th minute, Tiffin's Daniel Agosta got the ball inside the six and buried the gamewinner, but the Tiffin defense also made a strong statement, not allowing a shot to the Cardinals over the final 9:19 of the game.
Tiffin also held a 8-4 advantage in corner kicks.