Rutgers remains winless in Big Ten play with loss to Northwestern
The Rutgers men’s soccer team played one of its most important matches of the season this past weekend but was unable to capture the near must-win match.
The Scarlet Knights (3-10-1, 0-7-0) traveled up to Evanston, Illinois for a matchup with fellow Big Ten squad Northwestern (5-9-0, 1-5-0) on Sunday afternoon. Although it needed a Big Ten win to not be last seed in the Big Ten Tournament, Rutgers couldn’t get anything going all match, falling by a score of 3-0 and placing itself in danger.
The Wildcats jumped out of the gate almost immediately, scoring their first goal of the day in just the fifth minute of play. This was just the beginning of the first half onslaught that Northwestern put on the Knights.
In the 20th minute, Wildcat midfielder Tommy Katsiyiannis scored his second goal of the match, putting a crossed ball from 20 yards out into the back of the net.
Less than five minutes later, Northwestern forward Mac Mazzola put in the third and final goal of the match, scoring an unassisted goal that gave the Wildcats a 3-0 lead with over 60 minutes left on the clock.
In between the 3 goals by Northwestern, Rutgers got off two shots of its own from sophomore forward Brian Hawkins and senior forward Ryan Peterson, who both had their shots saved by Wildcat goalkeeper Robbie White.
In the rest of the first half, the Knights got off four more shots in attempts to bring themselves closer to Northwestern, but Rutgers couldn’t find a spark and went into halftime down 3-0.
The Knights and Wildcats both took seven shots in the second half, giving them an equal total of 13 shots for the match overall, but neither team scored in the second half, leaving Northwestern with the 3-0 win.
Junior goalkeeper Rafael Pereira saved six shots on the night, but couldn’t stop the 3 goals that ultimately left the match too far out of reach, keeping the team's confidence and momentum down.
The win by the Wildcats breaks a three-way tie at the bottom of the Big Ten rankings between Rutgers, Northwestern and Penn State. The Wildcats now rank seventh in the conference, as the Nittany Lions and Knights come in at eighth and ninth, both winless in conference play.
No matter where they place among the bottom three spots, the competition to be faced in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament will be fierce. Maryland, Indiana and Michigan State, the top three teams in the conference, all have not suffered losses against conference rivals so far this season.
Rutgers and Penn State will play in a winner-take-all showdown this upcoming weekend at Yurcak Field, with the victor not needing to face the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Before they head into that final conference regulation match, the Knights will host Lafayette to try and improve on their overall record. Rutgers has three matches remaining in the regular season that will finish at the end of the month.
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