by Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)
Player of the game: Senior Kyle Schickel got Northwestern on the board early against Ohio State, leading the team to a 2-0 victory over the Buckeyes on Wednesday night. The midfielder scored his first goal since September 14 against Iona. Just under six minutes into the game, Grant Wilson launched a free kick into the box, which Schickel one-touch finished into the bottom right corner of the net. “For me, (a) great (player) tonight was Kyle Schickel, who hasn’t been on the scoreboard for a long time,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “He got a goal and an assist. That’s pretty good for a senior to be able to do that. When your senior gets a goal and an assist in a big game like this that’s a good thing.”
Game-changer: Just five minutes after Schickel’s goal, freshman Joey Calistri, with an assist from Schickel, beat Ohio State goalkeeper Alex Wimmer one v. one and buried a shot into the right side of the net. The 2-0 lead provided extra cushion that the Wildcats would not need. “They made a couple of mistakes and we capitalized on them,” Schickel said. “We knew we needed to do that early in the game to make sure we set the tone and we didn’t want a team like Ohio State to linger around because they have some dangerous players up top and it could have been dangerous at the end.”
Stat of the game: Despite NU’s dominance throughout most of the game, the two teams finished with the same number of shots—11. Ohio State padded its shot total with four shots in the last ten minutes as they tried desperately to break through against an NU defense that has given up only 15 goals all season, tied for the Big Ten lead. “We would have liked it to be a little easier at the end but (you) can’t complain about the win,” Wilson said. “All Big Ten games are going to be tough so we kinda had to bunker in the last 15 or 20 minutes and they had a lot of attacking options on us. We’d like to shut that down a little more.”
Moving on up: NU goalkeeper Tyler Miller’s 17th career shutout moved him into sole possession of second all-time in the NU record books. The sophomore is now twelve behind leader Misha Rosenthal (2005-2009). “Tyler’s been phenomenal for us,” sophomore Grant Wilson said. “He’s a big guy in the back (who) can come out to get balls (and) a great shot-stopper coming out one v. one.”
What it means: The Cats advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes are eliminated.
What’s next: The 2-seed Cats will take on 3-seed Michigan on Friday. In the regular season, NU beat Michigan 2-0 on September 23. “Michigan’s a much improved team from when we saw them before,” Lenahan said. “They’re playing really well. They’re in contention for an NCAA tournament bid and I think it’s going to be a great game."
Other Big Ten news: No. 5 Michigan State took down No. 4 Indiana 2-1 in the first game of the tournament. No. 3 Michigan beat No. 6 Wisconsin 1-0 in the second game.