Women’s Soccer: Northwestern earns first NCAA Tournament berth since 1998


Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Sophomore forward Michelle Manning dribbles upfield. Manning and the Wildcats have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.

Max Schuman, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Soccer

After one of the most successful seasons in recent program history, Northwestern has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats (13-5-2, 7-3-1 Big Ten) will travel west for a matchup with Washington State (14-5-0, 7-4-0 Pac-12) Saturday at 7 p.m.

This marks the first time that NU will appear in the NCAA Tournament since the 1998 season, when the team made a run to the Round of 16.

Junior forward Addie Steiner said the NCAA bid was a dream come true.

“We’ve been working for it for so long, and to finally have it in our hands, it’s incredible,” she said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our team and our coaches.”

With the tournament berth in hand, the Cats get a chance to extend what has been a historic season. NU won three games to start the season for the first time in school history and set a school record for Big Ten victories with seven.

The national recognition of the Cats’ NCAA bid is yet another step forward for NU in a season full of them, said coach Michael Moynihan.

“This is a metric that’s out there for everybody — everybody sees the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “Immediately it gives the program some recognition, some credibility.”

The Cats required an at-large bid into the NCAAs after a Nov. 1 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament. But a resume featuring wins over tournament-bound Rutgers and Boston University squads and a top-four finish in the Big Ten was enough to secure NU’s place in the field.

Senior midfielder and team captain Niki Sebo said the road to national relevance has been a long but rewarding one for the Cats.

“This wasn’t even in our vision when (Moynihan) came in my sophomore year, and now to be in the NCAA tournament, it’s a really big deal for us,” she said.

Sebo said the Cats are inspired by memories of the 1998 squad, whose record for conference victories they broke this season. To match its tournament run, NU will need to survive a road trip to play a Cougars team that finished third in the Pac-12.

Moynihan said he is confident his players will be ready to go for the first-round matchup.

“They’re hungry. I think they’re very strong in their belief,” he said. “We’re going to go out there and do well.”

A previous version of this story misstated the time of the next game. Northwestern will play at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The Daily regrets the error.

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