Women’s soccer: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Wildcat weekend nets two losses

Jonah Rosenblum

Coming off one of its worst performances of the season against Penn State, Northwestern played one of its best versus No. 25 Ohio State, but were ultimately unsuccessful, falling 1-0 to the Buckeyes.

The weekend started dismally with Penn State putting up two goals in the first 10:50 of Friday’s game. Penn State forwards Danielle Toney and Katie Schoepfer connected twice in the early going, each scoring once and assiting on another, giving the Nittany the two-goal advantage.

“It took us 10 minutes to start the game,” coach Stephanie Erickson said, “And against a team like Penn State, you’re killing yourself if you do that. We didn’t show up in the first half, and they came out hard.”

Overall, the Nittany Lions outshot the Wildcats 13-7 in the first half, including 5-1 in shots on goal.

“It was a little disappointing to give up two goals in 10 minutes, because we had been focusing on our starts, and we wanted to come out hard,” senior forward Alicia Herczeg said. “Our response was good. We held them scoreless for (the last) 80 minutes, and in that respect, it definitely motivated us to put up a harder, stronger game.”

The Wildcats (4-8-2, 1-3-1 Big Ten) played better in the second half, outshooting the Nittany Lions (7-5-1, 3-1), 5-3.

“After halftime, everybody knew it was a bad effort,” Erickson said. “We wanted to at least walk out of there with some pride. That was our goal going into the second half. So, in the second half, it wasn’t like we were pummeling them, but once we put some numbers forward, and started tackling, we started seeing some chances.”

Due in part to her efforts versus the Cats, Toney was awarded the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award yesterday. Her tally against NU was her sixth of the season, and she currently is tied for third in the conference in scoring.

After the disappointing loss to Penn State, the upperclassmen held a team meeting to discuss how to rebound from Friday.

“We talked about the legacy the players before us built, and the players after us will continue to build,” senior forward Jessica Palo said. “We talked about playing for Northwestern, playing for purple. You can control playing your best no matter who you’re playing.”

The Cats were apparently motivated, maintaining a scoreless tie until the final minute of the game against the Buckeyes.

“We said we wanted to head back to Evanston Sunday with our pride intact,” Erickson said. “We wanted to be competitive to get a result. Our upperclassmen stepped up big time, put it out there that we want to be competitive every game.”

In the 90th minute, however, Ohio State scored off a corner kick on a Lauren Granberg game-winning header, her fifth score of the season.

Ohio State shut out the Cats, but not for lack of opportunity. NU put up 10 shots, including nine in the second half.

“We had a lot of courage, but we have to be more efficient with our chances when we’re playing ranked teams and top Big Ten teams,” Erickson said. “We squandered a few chances.”

The Cats’ best scoring chance of the game may have come midway through the second, when Herczeg intercepted a weak Buckeye pass to the keeper.

“I was able to get the cross off before (the goalie) deflected it, and I put it in the box hoping someone would be able to get it,” Herczeg said. “Sam Greene was there, but it took an unlucky deflection before it got to her.”

But unlucky deflections are starting to become a trend and could be the story of the season thus far for NU’s offense.

“We’ve got a little bit of bad luck, a lot of deflections in the box that could’ve gone either way,” Herczeg said. “One of them is going to go in eventually.”

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