By Brian ReganThe Daily Northwestern
A week removed from an inspired home sweep of two private schools, Northwestern looked to go big time, with their Big Ten opener and another non-conference test.
But this time, the results weren’t so positive.
The Cats lost two one-goal games at home to No. 14 Indiana and on the road at Central Michigan, both on late-game heroics.
The first game was a team effort where the Wildcats (5-6, 0-1 Big Ten) almost upset the Hoosiers (8-1, 1-0) , falling 5-4 after an Indiana goal late in the second overtime period.
Senior back Christina Foley scored the equalizer in the 70th minute, right before the buzzer to force overtime.
“The same thing happened against American earlier in the season, but I missed the cage,” Foley said. “This time something felt different. I was in shock and had to look at the ref to see if I actually scored before I celebrated.”
After a scoreless first overtime period, the Hoosiers finally found the back of the cage at the 93:54 mark in the second extra session to drop the Cats to 1-1 in overtime games this season.
Despite the result, the game was not a total wash for the Cats.
“I thought we were very well matched up with Indiana, and it showed how hard my team is willing to battle,” coach Kelly McCollum said. “(We) never gave up, took some good steps as a team, scored first (and) set a good tempo for the match.”
Foley’s goal could not increase the Cats’ intensity for their next game on Sunday.
While most NU students were watching NFL Countdown, the Cats were playing for their non-conference pride.
In a hard-fought match, the Cats gave up two goals late in the second half, including Erin Dottery’s game-winner, to give the Chippewas (5-2) the win.
“I thought Central Michigan was an even match, but we didn’t get the job done,” McCollum said. “We were inconsistent when it came to finishing, and (Central Michigan) finished more urgently than we did.”
In both games, the Cats didn’t have the same finishing power that their opponents possessed.
NU had 10 penalty corners against Indiana but only managed to score on one. Against Central Michigan, the Cats couldn’t convert on any of their four chances.
But the Cats did find offense from forwards Elizabeth Dobbs, Megan Sieberg and Alex Quinn who all added goals over the weekend.
Sieberg filled her role as a spark plug off the bench to score in both games.
Quinn had been playing forward for the first time this year and was making adjustments on the fly.
“My teammates were so helpful out there with the transition,” Quinn said. “I was pretty excited to have the chance to shoot a lot and receive passes from the (midfielders) I have been playing with all year.”
But even with the sparks on offense, the team’s main problem was allowing the opposition to keep the ball in NU territory.
“We have some weaknesses, notably defense,” Foley said, “where we need to work on keeping the attack out of our circle, and hopefully during practice we focus on that.”
Reach Brian Regan at [email protected]