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'Cats Blank Michigan, 2-0, In B1G Opener

Article Written by Betsy Golomski
Published: September 23, 2012

Sept. 23, 2012

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Site: Evanston, Ill. (Lakeside Field)
Score: No. 21 Northwestern 2, Michigan 0
Records: NU (6-0-2, 1-0-0 B1G), Michigan (2-5-0, 0-1-0)
Next NU Event: Wednesday, Sept. 26 - vs. DePaul - 6 p.m. - Lakeside Field

EVANSTON, Ill. - The defending Big Ten champions kicked off the regular-season conference schedule with a win Sunday at Lakeside Field, shutting out Michigan 2-0. The Wildcats scored both of their goals off set pieces to win their fifth straight match, third consecutive by shutout, and extend their season-opening unbeaten streak to eight matches (6-0-2).

Northwestern unveiled the 2011 Big Ten Championship banner, celebrating the regular season and tournament titles, prior to Sunday's match and NU continued its quality play against the conference with its win vs. Michigan. NU is now unbeaten in its last seven regular-season conference matches after going 4-0-2 in Big Ten action last season.

The Wildcats had a solid first half with the 10-3 advantage on shots and had three chances before scoring their first goal in the 22nd minute. Michigan's Dylan Mencia was whistled for a yellow card just outside the 18-yard box, giving Northwestern prime position for a free kick. Chris Ritter took the free kick from the middle right side on the edge of the 18-yard box, sent the ball in to Nick Gendron who tapped it over to Grant Wilson as he scored from inside the six. It was the first career goal for Wilson, who is normally assisting on goals as he leads the team and Big Ten in helpers this year.

Northwestern fired off five more shots and had the 9-0 lead on chances before Latif Alashe took the first Wolverine shot of the match in the 32nd minute.

Shortly after halftime, Michigan was down to 10 players as Mencia was whistled for another yellow card, resulting in a red, and left the match at the 53:07 mark. NU then scored its insurance goal about 10 minutes later off a corner kick. Wilson took the corner from the near left side and sent it in to Ritter on the near post and he headed it in from inside the six.

The score was Ritter's third goal of the year and the fifth assist of the season for Wilson, who entered Sunday's match leading the Big Ten in assists.

Each team had one more shot the remainder of the match as Michigan keeper Adam Grinwis saved Lepe Seetane's look and Noble Sullivan's shot was blocked by the NU defense in the closing minutes.

NU dominated the scoreboard, outshooting Michigan 14-5 and had the 9-2 advantage on corner kicks, including 4-0 clip in the second half.

Grinwis made six saves, three in each half, while NU goalkeeper Tyler Miller stopped two shots for his fourth shutout of the season. Miller has 13 career shutouts and is now in sole possession of third place on NU's career shutout list.

The Wildcats have two matches on schedule this week, hosting cross-town rival DePaul for a mid-week matchup on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Lakeside Field.  NU then turns its focus back to Big Ten action, playing Michigan State on the road next Sunday, Sept. 30, in a match that will air live on the Big Ten Network at 2:30 p.m. CT.


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