Women’s Soccer: Dagley’s dagger, Edwards’ defense lead NU to victory

Jonah L. Rosenblum

It took Northwestern more than 46 minutes to put up its first shot against Illinois on Senior Night. When the Wildcats finally did get an opportunity, they made it count.

NU broke a scoreless tie in the 47th minute when sophomore midfielder Jill Dunn took a pass from senior forward Jessica Palo. Dunn played it to forward Caroline Dagley, who hammered the ball home for the only goal of the match. Dagley’s first career goal propelled the Cats to defeat the Fighting Illini 1-0 at Lakeside Field.

It was Palo’s first assist of the season in the last game of her career.

“My teammate gave me a great pass,” Palo said. “I just wanted to make sure I made the most of it, and as always, my teammates were inside the box supporting.”

NU (7-10-2, 4-5-1 Big Ten) got off to a rough start Friday, going the entire first half without a serious scoring opportunity. Illinois outshot the Cats 7-0 in the first half, including six shots on goal, but were unable to cash in.

Some of the Cats first-half difficulties may have been caused by ferocious winds. NU went against the wind in the first half and then had the wind behind them in the second.

“The wind was a big factor, because in the first half we were connecting passes but we couldn’t get that last pass through,” Palo said. “The first half was just a matter of trying to hold the ball, and trying to do our best to keep the defense from being under too much pressure.”

The second half was even, as both teams put up six shots. All told, Illinois (7-9-3, 2-6-2) outshot NU 13-6, with 11 and two shots going on net, respectively.

Thankfully for the Cats, junior goalkeeper Carolyn Edwards was on her game, knocking down all of the Fighting Illini’s shots to record her career-high sixth shutout of the season.

“Carolyn was really solid today, ” coach Stephanie Erickson said. “She made one spectacular save there in the second half, but other than that, she just had to be solid. We pulled it out and it feels really good.”

As good a performance as she turned in, Edwards was quick to give credit to her defense.

“They really put some pressure down our necks, but we got up,” Edwards said. “The shots were not hard shots. Our defense did a really good job.”

Though registering its seventh win of the season was nice for NU, Senior Night transcended the game. It was also a chance for fans and coaches to thank four players who have dedicated themselves to the program. Fans and parents put posters honoring each senior on the fence separating the stands from the field. Gatorade cups spelling out the initials of all four seniors ­- AR (Ali Rubnitz), KS (Kay Sampson), AH (Alicia Herczeg) and JP (Jessica Palo) – were placed on the southern fence of Lakeside Field.

With the seniors serving as inspiration, the Cats got off to a fast start to the second half and never looked back.

“We really were playing this game for our seniors,” Edwards said. “It was a senior game, and we really wanted to give them a win, so we just picked it up. We had the wind to our backs (in the second half) so we just went with it and got a goal right away.”[email protected]