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Panthers win the Horizon League Tournament

What a crazy day for the Horizon League Tournament Championship. With the terrible rain the decision was made to change the venue of the game to Northwestern, since the University of Illinois Chicago’s field looked more like a pool, than a soccer field. This pushed the game back four hours, as the game did not start until six o’clock.

But this move could not have worked out better for the Milwaukee Panthers. UIC lost almost all of its home field advantage, while allowing Milwaukee to play on FieldTurf, which they are use to playing on, especially with a wet surface.

The Panthers (15-2-2) were able to knock off the Flames (16-4) 2-0 to win the Horizon League Championship and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. This is their first since 2005, and ninth in the program’s history.

Chicago lived up to its name today as the Windy City, as the wind was blowing hard, and affected the game the entire night. In the first half, the wind caused the ball to blow all over the field, and affected both teams on the offensive side of the ball.

The Panthers were close to scoring a few times, but goalie Andrew Putna showed why he was the Goalkeeper of the Year, making a couple of impressive saves.

In the 51st minute Andrew Stone scored the game winner for the Panthers, his second in the past 24 hours, as he headed the ball in off of a corner kick from Luke Goodnetter. Although Stone was a member of the All-Horizon League First-Team in the regular season a defensive player, his play on the offensive side of the ball earned him the Tournament MVP award.

Then only 16 minutes later, Declan Rodriguez was able to score the insurance goal for the Panthers. He headed the ball into the back of the net off of Goodnetter’s 45-yard free kick. With the Panthers up 2-0, you could tell the Flames were starting to press, as they were rushing and took some long and low percent shots.

Milwaukee did have a few more chances to score another goal, but were just unable to find the back of the net. In the entire game the Panthers had the advantage in possession with 13 of the 21 shots, and six corner kicks compared to the Flames one.

Liam Anderson also stepped up to the challenge, as he was able to record four saves against UIC’s solid offensive attack, for his tenth shutout of the season.

Along with the victory the Panthers had four players named to the All-Tournament Team. Joining Stone was Laurie Bell, Luke Goodnetter and Aaron Cranfill.

This was a well-deserved victory for the Panthers as they were able to do a great job, even with all of the adversity. Winning the Horizon League Tournament Championship and claiming a berth to the NCAA Tournament, has been the team’s goal all season long, and now they will find were they are head next tomorrow. The selection show begins at 11 o’clock, and soon after, they will find out their next challenge.


*Video is courtesy of Chris Zills and the Milwaukee Panthers

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