Men’s Soccer: After loss to Notre Dame, Wildcats hope to start new winning streak

Tim Balk, Reporter


After seeing a month-long unbeaten streak crash to a halt on Tuesday at No. 11 Notre Dame, No. 19 Northwestern (6-2-4, 1-1-2 Big Ten) aims to start a new streak when it heads east Saturday to take on Big Ten newcomer Rutgers (4-7-1, 1-3-1 Big Ten).

The Wildcats appeared to be hitting their stride prior to the Notre Dame game, winning their first two contests of October over Maryland and Northern Illinois, but hit a wall against the reigning champions in South Bend on Tuesday. The Irish used a stingy defense to limit the Cats to just five shots.

“It’s a long season,” NU coach Tim Lenahan said after the loss.

The Cats will continue to press forward as they enter the final stretch before the Big Ten Tournament.

Despite the disappointing results Tuesday, the Cats’ defense continued to look robust in the loss. NU has not allowed more than 2 goals in a game all season.

“The defense plays great, senior goalkeeper Tyler Miller said. “The whole team on this unit is really defensive-oriented. The back four especially, they really work hard to keep it shutout.”

For an NU team that has struggled at times to put up big offensive numbers, the play of the defense is essential.

“We have a great goalkeeper,” Lenahan said. “We’ve got veteran center backs, we have two warriors at the defensive midfield position.”

In Piscataway, New Jersey, NU will face a Rutgers team fresh off its best scoring output of the season: a four goal eruption Tuesday in a victory over Penn. The Scarlet Knights had managed only 2 goals in the four contests prior.

The Rutgers game is the third in a stretch of five consecutive road contests for the Cats. While the Cats has been consistently strong at home, going 5-0-1, they’ve had some issues on the road, including the loss at Notre Dame. All told, NU has a 1-2-3 record away from the friendly confines of Lakeside Field. On the other hand, Rutgers has been far from dominant at home, owning a 3-5 record in Piscataway.

NU has a chance to both start a new unbeaten streak and get its series with Rutgers off on the right foot; the meeting will be the Cats’ first ever with the Scarlet Knights.

NU can get back to its winning ways and open up a 1-0 lead in the new series with a road win on Saturday.

Julian Gerez contributed reporting

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @TimBalk