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Women’s Soccer: Sturdy defending paves way for triumph over Maryland

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Women’s Soccer: Sturdy defending paves way for triumph over Maryland

Junior forward Addie Steiner takes on a defender. The forward continued her successful season with two decisive goals in Thursday’s game against Maryland.

Junior forward Addie Steiner takes on a defender. The forward continued her successful season with two decisive goals in Thursday’s game against Maryland.

Daily file photo by Sean Su

Junior forward Addie Steiner takes on a defender. The forward continued her successful season with two decisive goals in Thursday’s game against Maryland.

Daily file photo by Sean Su

Daily file photo by Sean Su

Junior forward Addie Steiner takes on a defender. The forward continued her successful season with two decisive goals in Thursday’s game against Maryland.

Max Schuman, Assistant Sports Editor

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It was business as usual Thursday night for the Wildcats.

Junior forward Addie Steiner bagged two goals, the defense controlled yet another opposing offense and Northwestern (8-1-2, 2-0-1 Big Ten) secured a victory, this time against Big Ten foe Maryland (5-5-0, 0-2-0 Big Ten), 2-0, on Thursday.

Steiner has been an offensive force this season for the Cats, leading the team in shots and shots-on-goal, but had scored only two goals on the year. She needed only four shots in this game to double that total.

“(Addie had) great composure and presence in front of the net today,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “I haven’t seen that quality from her in that regard in, I don’t think, ever.”

Steiner got NU on the board early, splitting the Maryland defense with a run onto a long ball from senior midfielder Niki Sebo and cheekily lofting the ball over onrushing Maryland goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands to put the Cats up 1-0 in the 16th minute.

NU fell into a lull for the remainder of the first half, conceding the majority of possession and play to the Terrapins while leaning on what has been a rock-solid defense and midfield to stay compact and turn away the Maryland attack.

The Terrapins had a good chance to equalize when sophomore forward Alex Anthony released a shot from just outside the box that missed off the crossbar. This would be the best chance Maryland had all night.

“They really stretch the field and they expand their shape so much offensively,” Moynihan said. “I thought our midfield and defensive line kept a very compact shape and really held them at bay, so even though they were keeping the ball it wasn’t in areas that were very dangerous to us.”

The Cats came out with a burst of energy to start the second half and were rewarded in the 65th minute when Sebo got a free run at the Terrapin backline before crossing to a lurking Steiner, who slotted the ball into the net from 12 yards out.

From there, an NU defense that came into the game ranked sixth in the nation in goals allowed per game saw the game out and secured the victory. The Cats held Maryland to five shots on the night.

The Cats’ formula of staying compact on defense and trusting Steiner to generate and finish chances has done well for them so far this season, but a huge test will come in Sunday’s match against Rutgers, a team that was a perfect 8-0-0 until a 2-1 loss against Illinois last night.

Moynihan knows that the defend-and-counter approach that his team is suited for might not be enough against the stingy Scarlet Knights, who didn’t allow a goal in their unbeaten run to start the season.

“Their back four are very compact and they’re a great transition team, so we have to be wary of that,” he said. “If we can hold the ball against them, we’ll be able to create some good chances.”

And if NU can create chances, it looks like an on-form Addie Steiner is ready to finish them.

Email: maxschuman2018@u.northwestern.edu

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