Women’s Soccer: Northwestern’s season ends in familar fashion against Wisconsin

Alex Lederman, Reporter

Northwestern’s season of highs and lows — mostly lows — came to a close this weekend as the Wildcats dropped their final game of the season Saturday at Wisconsin.

“For Wisconsin, they needed the win to get into the Big Ten Tournament, and they came out playing like that,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “We didn’t really match their intensity.”

Wisconsin midfielder Lindsey Holmes, forward Cara Walls and midfielder McKenna Meuer kicked the Badgers into the Big Ten Tournament by sending shots past NU goalkeepers Jenna Hascher and Ali Herman for the 3-0 victory.

The Cats, however, will not be joining the Badgers in Urbana-Champaign, Ill., for the Big Ten Tournament, as only the top eight teams in the conference qualify. With only one Big Ten victory, NU finished dead last in the standings.

“It’s rough,” Moynihan said. “Coming into the season we had hoped to be contenders for the Big Ten Tournament. We felt that we’d be in a position to do that, and I think that as we look back at the season there’s really no reason that we couldn’t have been.”

“We were very close on a number of games to getting results,” he added. “I think the part that we have to look at is, ‘Why didn’t we get the results and why didn’t we get them consistently?’ There’s luck, there’s decisions by referees, there’s all sorts of things that play into it, but when you see it on multiple occasions, you have to look inward and figure out, ‘What do we have to do differently to be on the other end of these results?’”

Moynihan, however, still believes his club made strides this year.

“If you look purely at the record,” he said, “I think you’d look at it and say maybe we went backwards a little bit. But if you look at us game by game in terms of performance and our ability to compete with a lot of these teams, I think we definitely moved forward.”

Major contributors to the Cats’ progress this season were the seniors. Forward Kate Allen and midfielder Julie Sierks tied for the team lead in goals with junior forward Katie Landgrebe, and Allen led NU in assists and points.

The team on the whole, though, had too many flaws. Although they put up a respectable 267 shot attempts on the year, the Cats were unable to finish, only finding the net 16 times. The chances were plentiful for NU, but the team was rarely able to capitalize on these opportunities. NU sent many shots wide and became all too familiar with friends it would prefer not to have: the posts and the crossbar.

Nonetheless, seniors said they will miss being Cats.

“It’s definitely sad,” senior midfielder Natalie Lagunas said of her career ending. “I felt that after the game it was just sad knowing that something I’ve worked so hard for in the past three years has finally ended. I’m going to miss the team most of all.”

Sierks said it feels “weird” for the season to end with one game. Even so, she said she is comfortable with the foundation her class has laid for this team moving forward.

“We’ve all worked so hard, and I think that it’s unfortunate the results didn’t go our way but I hope at least what we’ve done will help the team for next year,” she said. “And we’ll definitely come to games and stick around.”

Moynihan takes an optimistic view on this season but knows the challenge that lies ahead.

“We have a lot of work to do in the offseason,” he said. “Coming in last place is not where we ever want to be again, and it’s going to take a lot of work to get ourselves out of there, but I don’t think we’re as far away as the record might suggest.”

At the end of the day, the Cats’ season did not go as planned, but they look forward to hitting the reset button next fall.

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