Men’s Soccer: Northwestern loses second straight match, falling to Rutgers 2-1


Tyler Keim/The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern sophomore Justin Weiss and Rutgers senior Thomas DeVizio battle for possession of the ball in a Friday matchup. The Wildcats fell to Rutgers 2-1 despite a second-half offensive push.

Alex Cervantes, Reporter

Men’s Soccer

Northwestern was unable to pull out a win against Rutgers despite a second-half offensive push, falling to the Scarlet Knights 2-1 on Friday at Martin Stadium.

The loss marked the Wildcats’ (4-7-2, 1-5 Big Ten) second-straight conference loss. Despite the outcome, coach Russell Payne praised NU’s efforts. 

“The spirit and the intent that we played with in the second (half), that’s what I told them over there,” Payne said. “I said, ‘I’m extremely proud of you guys.’”

The Cats struggled against the Scarlet Knights’ (8-3-2, 2-3-1) offensive efforts from the start. Rutgers junior midfielder Jackson Temple kicked off the scoring in the 21st minute, putting a curling shot past the outstretched arms of NU graduate goalkeeper Miha Miskovic. 

NU has faced first-half offensive troubles all season, as opponents have outshot them 181-99 through 13 games. The matchup against the Scarlet Knights was no different, with Rutgers outshooting the Cats 5-2 in the first period. 

Despite a lackluster first 45 minutes, NU came out swinging in the second period. After recycling play, senior midfielder Bardia Kimiavi whipped a ball into the 18-yard box. The pass found the head of graduate defender Spencer Farina, who flicked it over to sophomore midfielder Rom Brown. Brown put the finishing touches on the play, deflecting the ball into the back of the net with a header from point blank range and brought the match level, 1-1. 

“I was sitting at the top of the box waiting to clean up anything,” Kimiavi said. “Once the ball came to me I knew that the first order of business was just to put it back in a dangerous area.”

Both the Scarlet Knights and the Cats threatened to score in the final third for the rest of the match, but it was Rutgers that capitalized on the attacking side. In the 81st minute, forward Ritchie Barry headed home a Nick Cruz cross, giving the Scarlet Knights a lead they would hold on to until the final whistle.

Despite the final tally, NU put its emphasis on the offensive attack in the second half. The Cats doubled their shot total from the first to second period, putting two on frame — including Brown’s goal. Still, Rutgers finished the game with 12 shots, five on goal, while NU attempted just six, three of which were on goal. 

The Scarlet Knights’ defense targeted sophomore forward Justin Weiss, the Cats’ leading scorer this season, throughout the game. The sophomore had a Rutgers defender marking him all game, holding him to just one shot. 

NU will hit the road to face Wisconsin in Madison, Wisc. on Tuesday. The Badgers sit in third place in the Big Ten with 10 points thanks to their 3-0-1 record in conference play and have a 7-3-3 record overall. 

Wisconsin’s defense has conceded just six goals this season, despite opponents attempting 117 shots. Weiss said paying special attention to offensive efforts will help the Cats succeed. 

“It’s finding our forwards, laying it off, getting it wide, getting crosses in early,” Weiss said. “If we stick to our game plan and continue with that, there’s no reason why we won’t be very productive in the final third.” 

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