The Daily Northwestern

Women’s Soccer: Wildcats send seniors off with scintillating showing against Iowa

Max Schuman, Assistant Sports Editor

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Women’s Soccer

As Northwestern welcomed Iowa for Sunday’s Senior Day, revenge was on the team’s mind.

A season after the Wildcats unceremoniously crashed out of the Big Ten Tournament at the hands of the Hawkeyes and days after a crushing loss due to a late missed penalty against Nebraska, No. 24 NU (11-4-2, 5-3-1 Big Ten) put both of those bad memories to bed by dominating in all facets against Iowa (7-8-1, 1-7-1) en route to a 4-0 victory.

The Cats’ four goals were the most the team has scored in a game all season and the most that this year’s seniors have seen the team score against a Big Ten opponent in their four-year run.

And yet the final score understates how dialed-in a typically lackluster NU offense was in this game. It took 20 shots and put 11 of them on goal, creating dangerous chances throughout the match after managing only one goal across its last four games.

Junior forward Maria Grygleski said the Cats played with a different attacking intensity today in an effort to wash away the sour taste of Thursday’s heartbreaking 1-0 defeat.

“We went through a sort of slump recently where our mentality wasn’t there. We really turned on an attacking mindset in this game,” she said.

Grygleski got NU on the board in the 42nd minute off a long set-piece, giving the Cats a well-deserved 1-0 lead at halftime after they dominated possession throughout the first half but squandered numerous chances.

But with the lid finally off the Iowa goal, the dam broke in the second half on the way to three NU goals that resoundingly put away the Hawkeyes.

True to form, the defensive-minded Cats didn’t let their suddenly high-flying offense take all the credit by playing perhaps their most dominant defensive game of the season, allowing only two Iowa shots on the day, neither of which were on goal. Freshman center back Hannah Davison credited the return of sophomore outside back Kassidy Gorman from injury and great communication for the stifling defensive effort.

“We just kept focused,” Davison said. “It’s one thing to score four goals, but to keep that zero, that’s a pride thing.”

Davison also contributed offensively, finding the ball in a scramble in front of the Iowa goal off an NU corner, and finishing her chance for the first goal of her collegiate career and the Cats’ third goal of the day.

Her goal was bookended by second-half goals from NU’s usual suspects, as the team’s leading scorers, junior forward Addie Steiner and senior midfielder Niki Sebo, notched their fifth and fourth goals of the season, respectively. Steiner fed Sebo for a one-touch blast from the top of the box to grab a 2-0 lead in the 58th minute, while Steiner finished near-post for a 72nd-minute goal that pushed the Cats’ lead to four.

NU was dominant and impressive in all ways on Senior Day, a symbol of the growth of the program and its eldest players, who began their NU careers at the same coach Michael Moynihan arrived in Evanston. Sitting at sixth currently in the Big Ten standings, the Cats are not safely qualified for the eight-team Big Ten tournament yet with two games to play, but their win goes a long way towards securing that spot.

And if his team can return to the postseason, Moynihan thinks their scintillating showing proves they’re a force to be reckoned with.

“I thought we came out with a fantastic mentality, dominated from the very beginning,” he said. “It’s an exciting time. I think we’re positioned very well.”