The No. 19 Northwestern (7-2-4, 2-1-2 Big Ten) defense stood strong to hold conference newcomer Rutgers scoreless (4-8-1, 1-4-1) in a 2-0 win in Piscataway, New Jersey, on Saturday night.
The Wildcats bounced back after their loss to reigning national champions Notre Dame thanks to junior midfielder and NU top-scorer Cole Missimo, who broke the deadlock with his 5th goal of the season after a cross to the right side of the Scarlet Knights’ goal. Sophomore forward Mike Roberge doubled the Cats’ lead and scored his 1st goal of the season by putting in a rebound off of a shot that rattled off of the crossbar with just under nine minutes to play to seal the NU victory.
The Cats started the game looking dangerous, with a blocked shot, a saved shot and a corner kick all in the first 15 minutes of the game. After the initial pressure by NU, the game evened out to an extent, though Rutgers only registered one shot on goal the entire game.
Each team received one yellow card in the first half, with freshman forward Elo Ozumba picking up the caution for NU.
After the second half kicked off, Missimo put the Cats in the lead after a good cross by sophomore midfielder Drew Rosenberg from the left side of the field.
Missimo, a Texas native, has scored an impressive 4 game-winning goals out of his 5 goals this season and won the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award earlier this month.
“It’s a team effort. There’s no way I’m getting anywhere close to those goals if it’s not for the team pressing and working together,” Missimo said after the match against Maryland. “It does feel good to take on that goalscoring responsibility with (junior forward Joey Calistri).”
In the 82nd minute, senior defender Nikko Boxall had a shot hit off of the crossbar. Roberge was there to put the ball into the back of the net after the rebound.
Cats senior goalkeeper Tyler Miller picked up his eighth shutout of the season with the clean sheet against the Scarlet Knights, good for third place in the Big Ten in that department. The senior now has 35 shutouts in his entire career, the most in NU history.
But Miller only had to make one save in the entire match against Rutgers, with the Cats’ defensive unit putting in another good performance.
“(The defense does) everything they can to stop the other team from scoring,” Miller said after the match against Notre Dame.
NU was able to keep Rutgers forward Jason Wright at bay throughout the game with a good defensive showing. The freshman, who has played on Jamaica’s national youth teams, has scored 7 goals this season.
The Cats have a break before they travel to No. 16 Michigan State next Sunday for a tough matchup against the second place-ranked team in the Big Ten.
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