Women’s Soccer: Wildcats finish season on three-game winning streak, coach nets 200th victory

Midfielder+Niki+Sebo+and+the+Wildcats+finished+the+season+on+a+three-game+winning+streak.+The+victory+over+Michigan+State+gave+coach+Michael+Moynihan+200+wins+for+his+career.

Daily file photo by Alissa Zhu

Midfielder Niki Sebo and the Wildcats finished the season on a three-game winning streak. The victory over Michigan State gave coach Michael Moynihan 200 wins for his career.

Rebecca Friedman, Reporter

After losing eight straight Big Ten contests, Northwestern (7-10-2, 3-8-0 Big Ten) capped off the season with three consecutive conference victories by defeating Michigan State 1-0. The Wildcats’ 3-8 record and 10th place finish were not enough to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament, but the team is happy with the positive end to the year.

The win was also coach Michael Moynihan’s 200th career victory.

“A lot of things came together,” Moynihan said.

The Cats’ offense had been very dormant for a large portion of the season, including a stretch where NU didn’t score a goal in four games. But in their final three games, the Cats scored four goals, one more than they had managed in their nine  games prior.

“We did a lot of things that we worked on in practice,” sophomore midfielder Katie Gancedo said. “The offense was much more cohesive.”

Gancedo assisted on sophomore midfielder Niki Sebo’s goal in the 19th minute against Michigan State (8-9-2, 2-8-1 Big Ten). The tally proved enough to outlast the Spartans, giving the Cats a 1-0 victory and their second consecutive shutout. Sophomore goalkeeper Anna Cassell recorded six saves.

“Our defense was very organized,” Cassell said. “They were blocking shots and making tackles. Our goal defensively is always to get the shutout and we are pleased we did. We did our job.”

Moynihan was also quick to praise Cassell and the defense in front of her. Cassell’s impressive play and second shutout of the year earned her Big Ten co-defensive player of the week honors. The Cats were represented last week as well, with sophomore defender Jackie Alyinovich earning the same honors. Alyinovich was a huge part of the defensive success this season.

“Our defense was solid,” he said. “Our goalkeeping is very steady and consistent.”

Although the Cats were eliminated prior to the final three contests, Cassell said the team displayed heart and fight in going 3-0 to finish the season.

“It really speaks to the character of this team,” Cassell said. “We are 28 girls willing to play for anything.”

Additionally, the 1-0 win over the Spartans is the last match in an NU jersey for the three seniors on the roster.

“We won for ourselves and our seniors,” Gancedo said. “We won for ourselves more than anything else.”

Moynihan highlighted the team’s psychological change in the last three games and the fact that they players started to believe that they could score and could win.

“The last three games were not a lot different,” he said. “There were just some small differences, and it was a huge step in terms of persistence. They just kept working.”

Heading into the off-season, the team plans to work on a few specific things.

“We just need to keep building off the work we accomplished this year,” Moynihan said. “We need to work on better decision making in the final third, and we need our fitness to be better.”

Cassell also added that the players need to work on fitness, quickness, power and strength individually so that next year they can come back stronger as a team. She also emphasized the goal of starting next season where they left off this year.

“We started winning and we aren’t going to stop,” she said. “This is the beginning of a special thing for our program.”

Comments