Women’s Soccer: Northwestern falls back to earth, below .500

Rebecca Friedman, Reporter

The Wildcats entered the weekend looking to stay above .500 and secure their first conference win. However, Northwestern remains winless in Big Ten play with losses to Penn State and Ohio State.

The Wildcats (4-5-2, 0-3) hung with both teams, outplaying them at times, but ultimately, Wildcat defensive mistakes led the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes to best the Cats at their home field.

NU outperformed Ohio State (7-3-0, 2-1 Big Ten) in the first half of Sunday’s game, outshooting the Buckeyes 8-5 with numerous scoring opportunities. Still, the Wildcats were unable to find the back of the net.

“We had a lot of shots and a lot of opportunities. We just have to work on putting our final chance away,” sophomore forward Sami Schrakamp said. “If we can get the first goal, I think we can change the whole flow of the game.”

Schrakamp was responsible for many of the Cats’ abundant offensive opportunities.

“[Schrakamp] gave us a real spark today, and she has the last couple of games,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “She’s been dangerous generating some good serves.”

In the first half, the Cats’ had eight shots on goal and displayed consistent defensive play. The Buckeyes recorded three corner kicks early in the match but were unable to convert for a score. The combination of strong play by NU and lack of execution by Ohio State led to a 0-0 tie at half time.

In the 58th minute, however, the Buckeyes scored their first goal on a break by senior forward Tiffany Cameron, taking a lead they would never relinquish.

NU viewed the goal as a result of a Wildcat miscommunication.

“They get opportunities when we give them to them. That was our mistake that they scored on, not something they produced themselves,” Schrakamp said. “It was our mistake and our wrong communication, and if we fix that then they won’t have those opportunities because we shut them down in every other aspect.”

The Buckeyes capitalized on another Wildcat miscue in the 74th minute for their second and final goal of the game.

Junior defenseman Natalie Lagunas believes more communication on defense will stop these types of goals from being scored.

“We all have to stay together in the back and keep talking. As long as we have each others’ back we will be okay next time,” she said. “We need to make the right decision when to step or when to not. You have to think about a lot of things on defense.”

Two days earlier, the Cats fell 4-1 to the Big Ten-leading Nittany Lions (8-2-0, 3-0) at home, making the same types of mistakes that plagued their game against the Buckeyes.

“It’s just we either made poor choices or we have a bad touch, and it’s killing us,” Moynihan said. “As long as you keep the ball out of the goal, you’re in the game, and we’re giving up really soft goals.”

Despite the defensive mistakes and difficulty finishing, the Cats were proud of their ability to play with the top teams in the Big Ten.

“We stepped up and showed we are a different team this year. We came out a lot harder than we usually do. We usually come out on our heels,” Schrakamp said. “Especially in the first half, we were fighting and we were battling. It’s shocking teams this year.”

With the losses, the Cats fell below .500 and to 0-3 in the Big Ten with two more conference games coming up this weekend.