Fall sports preview: Volleyball soars, men’s soccer stumbles

Josh Walfish, Gameday Editor

The fall season officially started last weekend with three of Northwestern’s six teams beginning their 2012 campaigns and another playing its second game. Here are the highlights:

Field hockey

NU began the season at No. 20 in the rankings and opened its season at Cardinal Classic in Louisville, Ky., which featured three teams inside the preseason top-25. The Cats (1-1) drew the only unranked team in the four-team field, Miami (Ohio) (0-2), on Saturday and easily dispatched the Redhawks 3-0.

Sophomore Maddy Carpenter made three saves for the fourth shutout of her career, and NU peppered Miami’s goalie Sarah Mueller with 18 shots, forcing her to make six saves. The Cats took the lead thanks to the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, senior forward Chelsea Armstrong, who dribbled the ball to the front of the goal and scored. Junior midfielder Tara Puffenberger added her first goal as a Wildcat after transferring from the University of Virginia, and junior forward Nikki Parsley added an insurance tally to send NU to the final.

Next up for NU was a meeting with No. 21 Northeastern (2-0). Sunday’s game came down to the final seconds before the Cats fell 2-1. The Huskies struck just 102 seconds into the game to take the lead into halftime despite not controlling the run of play for most of the first 35 minutes. In the second half, the Cats came out on attack,taking 12 shots and earning four penalty corners, but Northeastern’s Lizzie Priest was up to the task and kept NU off the board until there was less than five minutes on the clock. With just four minutes and 32 seconds remaining, a scramble in front of Priest resulted in Parsley tying the game at one. However, with no time on the clock, Northeastern was awarded a penalty corner of its own and the Huskies converted to end the game.

“We did a great job to come back and tie the game after pulling our goalkeeper,” coach Tracey Fuchs told NUSports.com after the match. “To lose with no time on the clock is disappointing but we have gained valuable experience this weekend.”

Men’s soccer

In their first game in defense of the 2011 Big Ten title, No. 20 NU brought back the dramatic flair that led it to the first title in school history.

Opening Saturday night at home against Xavier, the defending Atlantic-10 champion, NU (0-0-1) was unable to create much offense in the first half despite taking five shots in the period. The Musketeers (0-0-1) also took five shots in the first half, but capitalized when Luke Spencer went one-on-one with an NU defender and beat sophomore goalie Tyler Miller 14 minutes into the game. The first-team All-Big Ten goalkeeper made four saves and was instrumental in setting up the Cats’ lone tally of the night.

With the clock running down, Miller stopped a clearing attempt by Xavier go out of bounds for a corner kick, and his punt set up a series of headers that led to sophomore forward Eric Weberman being fouled in the penalty area while setting up a penalty kick with nine seconds left in the game. Senior midfielder Chris Ritter converted on the opportunity to send the game into extra time.

The Cats kept the pressure on the Musketeers in both overtime periods, but could not find the back of the net to open the season with a draw. NU had six shots and six corner kicks in the extra time.

“That was a hard-fought game and that was a good game,” coach Tim Lenahan told NUSports.com. “We really were stagnant in the first half and really didn’t generate any chances. On the attacking side, we have to find a way to create some things and not be so frantic, but for the first game out, that was a tough game to play. We walked away with a point, so I’m satisfied with that.”

Women’s soccer

Last season the Cats won only twice during 19 games, and coach Stephanie Foster was let go. New coach Michael Moynihan picked up two victories in his first two matches in charge of NU.

The Cats (2-1-0) began their season Aug. 19 in Lawrence, Kan., against the University of Kansas (3-1-0) and got off to a hot start against the Jayhawks. Junior forward Kate Allen struck for her first goal of the season just four minutes and 54 seconds into the game. The goal gave NU the lead, but Kansas controlled the rest of the half, taking eight shots and forcing sophomore goalkeeper Anna Cassell to make five saves in the opening session.

The Jayhawks finally found the net four minutes into the second half, one of 12 shots in the frame. However, the Cats defense rose to the challenge, blocking shots and keeping the ball from Cassell. In the final seconds of regulation Kansas had two corner kicks, but both were well defended by the Cats. In the extra session, NU came out on the attack, taking two shots before sophomore midfielder Georgia Waddle put a rebound in the goal to end the match and give NU its first win of the season.

NU traveled Friday to Miami (Ohio) (3-1-0) and came back from a halftime deficit to dispatch the Redhawks 2-1.

Miami struck first when Katy Dolesh broke through the NU defense and beat Cassell to the left 20 minutes into the game. In the second half, the Cats turned up the intensity, earning five corner kicks and taking six shots. Waddle scored her second goal on the young season 10 minutes after the break and then with just more than eight minutes left, sophomore midfielder Niki Sebo put home a loose ball to secure the Cats’ second victory in as many games.NU rode the wave to take on the University of Dayton (3-1-0) on Sunday and fell behind yet again in the first half. The Flyers blitzed the Cats with 13 shots in the first 45 minutes, but Cassell stopped six shots to keep the deficit at 2-0 after the first stanza. The tide seemed to be turning in the middle of the second half when Allen and Sebo scored within 90 seconds of each other to tie the game. However, Dayton scored three times in 11 minutes on freshman Rachel Bergman to hand NU its first defeat of the season 5-2.

“I was very pleased with the way the team adjusted and fought back after being down 2-0,” coach Michael Moynihan told NUSports.com. “We are young and we’ll learn from it. There are some easy things for us to fix and some promising moments to build on.”


The Cats began their 2012 season at the Marquette Challenge in Milwaukee and came back to Evanston with the title.

NU fell behind early in the match, dropping 10 of the first 14 points before calling timeout. The Cats would not get closer than three points the rest of the set, dropping the opening set 25-21. NU responded by gutting out a 27-25 win in set two, which included saving a set point. The third set was another see-saw battle, with neither team asserting control until the Cats took six of the final seven points to win 25-20 in the third set. In the fourth set, NU kept its foot on the gas and raced to a 16-6 lead. Bowling Green never recovered, and the Cats took the set 25-19 and won its opening match 3-1 to advance to play the host, Marquette.

Against the Golden Eagles, the Cats got off to a better start and never trailed by more than three points but could not get a streak started, dropping the first set 25-22. In the second set, NU trailed 17-15 before scoring the next six points to take control of the set and scoring three consecutive points to close out the second set 25-21. In the third set, Marquette scored six consecutive points to take a commanding 20-16 lead, but NU responded with the next four points to tie the set. The Golden Eagles proceeded to win four of the next six points to earn two set points, but NU once again rallied and earned a set point of its own, which it failed to convert, but the Cats took the third set 28-26. In the fourth set, NU scored seven of the first nine points and rode the momentum to a 25-18 set win and another 3-1 match victory.

Josh Walfish is The Daily’s Gameday editor. He can be reached at [email protected]