The Daily Northwestern

Women’s Soccer: Wildcats searching for answers despite improved play

COMING UP SHORT Sami Schrakamp and the Wildcats have already surpassed their win total from last season, but the team believes they have played better than their 4-5-2 record.

Daily file photo by Mackenzie McCluer/The Daily Northwestern

COMING UP SHORT Sami Schrakamp and the Wildcats have already surpassed their win total from last season, but the team believes they have played better than their 4-5-2 record.

Rebecca Friedman, Reporter

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With a crucial weekend coming up, the Wildcats hope to embrace their underdog status and obtain their first Big Ten win of the season — a victory that would increase their chances of sneaking into the conference tournament.

With losses to Penn State, Ohio State and Nebraska, Northwestern sits at 4-5-2 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten. The Cats head to Purdue (6-4-1, 1-2 Big Ten) and Indiana (5-5-1, 0-3) this weekend to face off against two other teams in the bottom half of the conference.

“This is a massive weekend for us,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “We are 0-3 right now in the Big Ten and we’ve tasted a bit of success this season before the conference season started. We need to get back to that.”

Though the feat of sweeping the weekend seems more difficult on the road, NU has a 2-1-1 away record this year. The Wildcats have scored seven goals in five games away from Lakeside Field, as compared to only eight goals in seven games at home. 

Goal production has been an issue for the Cats in conference play so far, as they have mustered only one goal in the three losses.

“Every team has trouble scoring. It’s a tough thing to do,” Moynihan said. “In all honesty, I’m more concerned about the goals we’re giving up. We’re giving up goals that are very soft. The team isn’t doing a whole lot to earn them.”

Junior defenseman Natalie Lagunas emphasized that when limiting small defensive errors, the Cats are able to stick with the top teams in the conference.

Despite dropping 2-0 games to both Nebraska and Ohio State, NU believes it is putting up more of a fight in tough conference games than it did last year.

“We are competing so well with these teams, much more than we have before,” Lagunas said. “I think we have the opportunity and definitely the ability to win more games, and that’s what we plan on doing this season.”

One reason NU has been able to play at a higher level than in the past is that team members are playing much more cohesively.

“It’s not just one position standing out,” Lagunas said. “It’s all of us standing out as a unit this year.”

Still, the Cats are frustrated with their number of wins so far this season.

“We’ve outplayed a lot of teams that we lost to and it just doesn’t make sense to us,” sophomore forward Sami Schrakamp said.

Moynihan said NU is struggling to figure out why it has nothing to show for its vast improvement.

“That’s what’s really difficult, to go away from a game feeling like you outperformed the other team in nearly every facet, but they have the goals to show for it,” he said. “I know our team isn’t happy with the result.”

Perhaps the Cats’ past seasons and slow start will prove to be unexpected blessings as  conference opponents underestimate their level of play.

“A lot of teams are taking us for granted,” Lagunas said. “It’s good to have that underdog state of mind.”

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