The ‘Cats (5-9-0, 1-5-0 B1G) picked up a solid 3-0 win over Rutgers on Sunday, Oct. 15, their first win in Big Ten play this season. Northwestern, desperately needing a win in conference play, came out with the easy victory against the now last place Rutgers (0-7-0 B1G). Northwestern also extended their win streak to three games with the victory, helping them recover from an ugly stretch earlier in the season where they dropped nine out of ten games.
The ‘Cats and first-year Tommy Katsiyiannis got off to a hot start against Rutgers, with Katsiyiannis scoring two early goals in the 5th and 20th minute in his first two-score game of his career. The goal in the 5th minute came off a blocked Mac Mazzola shot, with Katsiyiannis finding the rebound and converting it to push Northwestern to a lead in the opening moments of the game.
The second goal for Katsiyiannis came off his own blocked shot, which he stayed with and scored. Mazolla then extended the lead to 3 goals in the 25th minute off a stolen pass, putting the game out of reach even before the halftime whistle. Mazolla and Katsiyiannis are now tied for the most goals on the team with three apice. Goalie Robbie White and the defense also played a great game, shutting out Rutgers despite each team having 13 shots. The game was White’s second shutout of the season, providing seven saves to help the effort.
Northwestern has struggled to score the ball this season, ranking 153rd in the nation this year in scoring, so the scoring outburst was a promising sign heading into the tail end of the season. Northwestern also needs just one more win in their final three games, and conference tournament play, to match their win total from last season.
The ‘Cats now turn to preparing for a visiting Michigan State (10-2-2, 4-0-2 B1G) on Friday, Oct. 20. They’ll look to both avenge their 2-1 loss from last year as well as pick up a second win in conference play on senior night. The game will not come easy against a powerful Spartans team that currently sits in third place in the conference. However, the game could serve as a preview of a potential conference tournament opening game opponent if Michigan State oasses Indiana to take the second spot in the tournament rankings. Northwestern, which nearly stunned the second-seeded Indiana in the quarterfinals of the conference championship tournament last year, will most likely need to play underdog again this year.