Women’s Soccer: Wildcats drop two conference games but keep tournament hope alive

Huzaifa Patel, Reporter

Northwestern faced Penn State on Friday and Ohio State on Sunday and lost both games by scores of 4-1 and 3-1, respectively.

Coming off of two heartbreaking losses, the Wildcats hoped to gain some momentum against two tough teams, but the Cats couldn’t fix the mistakes coach Michael Moynihan has mentioned earlier in the season.

“The problem is we’re not finishing well,” Moynihan said.

Despite being down 4-0 at one point, the team generated quite a few chances against Penn State. Once again, sophomore Addie Steiner was active, generating a scoring opportunity from outside the box late in the first half.

However, the Cats didn’t score until sophomore Rachel Zampa buried a distance shot in the 86th minute.

Against Ohio State, Steiner created chances once again in the 34th minute when she sped across the box and fired a shot, but the attempt was deflected by an OSU defender, leading to a corner kick. She generated another fast break opportunity just two minutes later when she fired a left-footed shot from the wing, but it was also denied.

When asked if other players had to be more aggressive, Moynihan disagreed, saying the rest of the team generated enough chances.

“We had a pretty well rounded attack today,” Moynihan said. “Katie (Landgrebe) had a few good chances. She brought the ball up really well and created some opportunities for herself, so quite a few people were involved. We just didn’t get the final product like Ohio State did.”

In fact, Moynihan said he thought the team outplayed Ohio State.

“Today (Sunday) we were far, far better than them,” Moynihan said. “I mean, we were all over them. We hit the post, missed a couple of other really good chances, and when we had it back to 1-1, we were definitely out front and had a lot of momentum in the game.”

Moynihan was referring to the Cats’ strong second half start in which they had three shots on goal in the first seven minutes and held the ball in the Buckeye zone for the vast majority of the stretch. They finally scored in the 62nd minute when freshman Michelle Manning hit a strike from 20 feet out into the left post, netting the equalizer.

Ohio State responded with a bending goal from over 25 feet out which would prove to be enough for the victory, though they added an insurance goal in the 88th minute to make it 3-1.

Moynihan said he was disappointed because wins against Penn State and Ohio State could have catapulted the team as high as eighth in the Big Ten. But he knows the team is still in contention for one of the eight spots in the conference tournament.

“There’s a lot of teams that are very close right now,” Moynihan said. “Even though we haven’t gotten the Big Ten victory, there are several others with only one win or none. If we can get on track and get a couple of wins against both teams, we’ll be right back thinking about the Big Ten Tournament. That’s where we want to be.”

Cats fans can hope home cooking can give the team momentum for a playoff push, as the team will close their season out with five of seven games in Evanston.

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