Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

45° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Women’s Soccer: Defender Ally Arca shores up Northwestern’s backline

When senior defender Ally Arca came to Northwestern three years ago, coach Stephanie Foster had never even seen her play. Foster, then in her first recruiting round as coach, said she was trying to fill out the roster and picked Arca based on a recommendation from a trusted source on the West Coast.

Arca saw time in eight games her freshman year, but then only made one appearance in the next two seasons. This year, she’s come on in 10 games to solidify a stingy NU (5-7-3, 1-4-1 Big Ten) defense, including during shutouts against then-No. 3 UCLA and Illinois State.

“Arca is someone we took knowing she’d be a project,” Foster said. “It’s been hard for her. She’s not seen a lot of playing time, she’s always continued to work, continued to persevere, and she’s emerged this year as a senior. She knows every answer tactically, she’s got a lot more confidence about her.”

The Wildcats will host Iowa (7-6-2, 0-4-1) at Lakeside Field on Thursday after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss at Michigan State on Sunday, during which the Spartans scored the lone goal with 13 minutes remaining. Arca went up against Michigan State’s all-time leading goal scorer, forward Laura Heyboer, who managed just one shot.

“She’s one of our best markers,” senior defender Alison Schneeman said. “She’s one of our scrappiest and hardest-working players. If we put her on the field, we know nobody’s going to get by her. This year especially, she’s playing like she has nothing to lose. I think everyone’s 100 percent comfortable when Arca’s on the field.”

Foster said it was in NU’s historic 1-0 win against UCLA that Arca started to see playing time. Arca came on in the 21st minute and helped guide the Cats to the shutout and the biggest regular-season win in program history.

“It was especially exciting for me because I’m from California originally so I know a lot of the girls on that team,” Arca said. “Having that win in my senior year and playing in that game meant probably more to me than any other moment since I’ve been here because we truly played as a team.”

The Hawkeyes will pose less of a threat to the Cats’ backline than UCLA as they have the fewest number of goals in conference play in the Big Ten. But Arca said she’s taking the game seriously.

“This next game is really going to show that our team is definitely a group of fighters and that we’re going to keep trying,” Arca said. “We just have to come out and bring it to them even harder.”

Since their win at Indiana, the Cats have lost four of their last five games, though they haven’t fallen as hard as the Hawkeyes, who have yet to win in conference.

“They’re all must-wins at this point,” coach Stephanie Foster said. “They’ve been must-wins for about three games and we haven’t gotten the results.”

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Women’s Soccer: Defender Ally Arca shores up Northwestern’s backline