Tough Big Ten Tournament Looms After Loss (Women’s Soccer)

Matt Baker

By Matt BakerThe Daily Northwestern

With a spot in the Big Ten tournament already wrapped up, Northwestern went into Friday’s game at Wisconsin with nothing to lose. And playing against a Badger team needing a win to secure its spot in the tournament, it showed.

After allowing three first-half Wisconsin goals, the Wildcats lost to the Badgers 5-0 in their final regular season game.

With the loss, NU (8-9-2, 4-5-1 Big Ten) slipped to the eighth seed in this week’s Big Ten tournament, while Wisconsin (7-8-3, 4-5-1) jumped to seventh. The Cats would have earned the fourth seed with a win.

“We lost out on an opportunity to make a bit of a statement in the Big Ten,” coach Stephanie Erickson said. “I don’t think we showed up to play.”

The Badgers got off to a fast start against the Cats, firing a shot just over the crossbar in the game’s opening minutes. A cross from forward Taylor Walsh in the 12th minute sailed to forward Allison Preiss at the top of the penalty box. Preiss struck the ball to the near post to put the Badgers up 1-0.

The Badgers scored again in the 21st minute after midfielder Elise Weber snuck behind the Cats’ defense and received a pass from Walsh. Weber capitalized on the one-on-one opportunity against NU goalie Lauren Johnston, lobbing the ball over her head to give the Badgers a 2-0 lead.

Walsh added another goal four minutes later to put the Cats down 3-0 just 25 minutes into the match.

“It was a combination of demoralizing and shocking,” sophomore Jenny Dunn said. “We had some issues of getting scored on a lot in the beginning of the season, but we thought that was something we had corrected and gotten past. It took us almost the remainder of the first half to let it sink in that we were actually losing 3-0.”

After NU took just three shots in the first half, the Cats came out strong in the second half. Junior Kelsey Hans led NU with seven shots after sitting out last week’s game against Penn State with a head injury.

Wisconsin added two goals in the final 10 minutes – a deflected shot by senior Lindsey Walker and Preiss’ second goal of the game – to seal the Badgers’ 5-0 victory.

Erickson said the game was the team’s worst of the season and showed that the team still lacks the ability to string together strong performances.

“We’re not a young team when it comes to age, but we’re a very young team when it comes to experience with winning and continuing to win,” Erickson said. “Experience in winning and consistency is what we lack, and it shows a little bit.”

The eighth-seeded Cats face regular-season conference champion No. 9 Penn State (12-3-3, 8-1-1) Thursday in the Big Ten tournament.

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