Injuries force frosh to step up their roles (Women’s Soccer)

avid Morrison

Coach Jenny Haigh knew freshman forward Krystal Patterson was going to be an important player for Northwestern this season.

“I knew she’d take time to adjust, but I knew that, right off the bat, her speed would be something we’d want to put in the lineup,” she said.

She just didn’t know how soon Patterson would be thrust into her current role as a key component of the Wildcats’ attack.

After seeing sparse game action in the first eight games, Patterson has started five of the last eight and has responded with one goal and two assists.

“I was hoping to be (a key contributor),” Patterson said. “It’s great that I am. It’s a good thing.”

Patterson’s story is a model for the rest of NU: a team that has had to find itself very quickly and adapt to new roles.

Making this task even harder for the Cats (8-7-1, 1-6-1 Big Ten) is the instability this season has brought, mostly from injuries.

The team has used six different lineups this year. None of these has included captain Shannon Schneeman, a junior midfielder who was lost for the year during the last week of spring practice.

Another freshman, midfielder Jeanette Lorme, has filled the gap left by Schneeman’s absence.

“Shannon was a person that game in and game out was a really great and consistent attacker and defender,” Haigh said. “(Lorme) finds ways to impact the game all the time.”

While youth is well served on the team, the Cats also have a core of veterans who lead by example.

“I make it visible that I am there for my teammates,” senior midfielder Tabitha Lowey said. “I’m going for every ball and going in hard on my tackles.”

Even with the injury, Schneeman is finding many different ways to make her influence felt on the team.

She has assumed the role of an unofficial assistant coach from the bench, offering encouragement and suggestions to the team on the field.

“She’s able to impact the game with her insight, voice, experience and passion,” Haigh said.

The Cats will need this mixture of the young and younger to be playing their roles this weekend against Ohio State (6-7-2, 3-5-0).

With only four points in conference play coming into this all-important weekend, Haigh said the team needs victories over both the Buckeyes and Wisconsin, next Friday’s opponent, to get a spot in the Big Ten tournament and maybe gain some consideration for the NCAA tournament.

“More than that, it’s just, let’s beat Ohio State,” she said. “They’re a good team. Let’s find a way to win it.”

Reach David Morrison at

[email protected]