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Rutgers shutout in Northwestern

Coming into its game at Northwestern, the Rutgers men's soccer team was at a crossroads. After winning just 1 of their first 5 Big Ten games, the Scarlet Knights (7-4-3, 1-4-1) found themselves sixth in the conference. Tied with Northwestern at 1-3-1 in conference play, a win in Evanston, Illinois, would get them back in the top five and put them in striking distance of the top four ahead of the Big Ten Tournament.

Rutgers couldn’t get the job done on the road yesterday, falling 2-0 to the Wildcats (6-7-1, 1-3-1) in a game that saw them struggle to generate any real offense. 

The Knights didn’t get off to the start they wanted, with Northwestern drawing first blood in the 11th minute. From the corner, the Wildcats' Matt Moderwell delivered a cross to the left post that was headed past true freshman goalkeeper Oren Asher by teammate Jose Del Valle.

Rutgers had a couple of half-chances, but couldn’t register a shot on target in the first half. Just before the break, Northwestern would double its lead in the 44th minute when its own Logan Weaver got on the end of a through ball into the box and slotted it inside the left post.

The Knights would get their first on-target attempt in the 57th minute. Sophomore midfielder Pablo Ávila sent in a cross from the left wing that found senior defender Jake Longo. The senior captain couldn’t do anything with it, and the header went right into the arms of Wildcat Miha Miskovic.

Northwestern almost got a third in the 62nd minute, when its own Sean Lynch had a chance at the top of the 18-yard box. The strike was well-hit, but ricocheted off the right post and out of play.

Rutgers only got one more shot for the rest of the game, which came in the 87th minute as junior midfielder Kyle Galloway’s long-range effort fell right into the hands of Miskovic. 

"We started the game too slowly today and found ourselves behind,” said head coach Jim McElderry. "We settled down and controlled play for long periods, but were not good enough in the final third.”

For the Knights, they now have just three games to go in the regular season before they gear up for the Big Ten Tournament. 

“We will watch this game film and learn from it,” McElderry said.

They’ve got their work cut out for them, with their last two conference games coming against the top two teams in the Big Ten. On Friday they’ve got a trip to No. 7 Indiana, and they’ll close out the regular season at home against Penn State.

For updates on the Rutgers men's soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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