Women’s Soccer: Wildcats fall to West Virginia 4-0 in NCAA Tournament


Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Addie Steiner fights for possession of the ball. The junior forward finished the season as the team leader in both goals and assists, with seven of each.

Charlotte Vaziri, Reporter

Women’s Soccer

It was a sour ending to an historic season.

Northwestern (14-6-2, 7-4-1 Big Ten) crumbled 4-0 to West Virginia (18-2-1, 6-0-1 Big 12) in the NCAA Round of 32 on Friday night in Morgantown. West Virginia’s win marks its fourth trip to the third round.

“We got off to a rough start, but it was too much to overcome,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “Halftime came, and we just talked about what type of impression we want to leave for the people watching us tonight.”

The Wildcat’s history-making season screeched to a halt after a 4-goal deficit in the first half.

The Mountaineers outshot NU 22-3, forcing West Virginia’s goalkeeper Hannah Steadman to make only one save, while the Cats’ sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Clem was under constant fire tallying seven saves.

West Virginia wasted no time. The team generated a penalty kick just 12 minutes into the half, but the ball ricocheted off the crossbar. At that point, it was anyone’s game, but a short two minutes after, West Virginia broke through.

“I thought we were going to ride a bit of luck after they hit their penalty kick off the crossbar, and that we might be able to keep ourselves in it,” Moynihan said.

Captain and midfielder Amanda Hill scored her fifth goal of the season in the 15th minute after burying a header off of a corner kick.

Mountaineers’ leading goal scorer and forward Michaela Abam padded her statistics in the 23rd minute after firing a bullet from 25 yards out to the far post.

The game significantly slipped out of the Cats’ hands when they couldn’t maintain possession. Nothing was connecting, no one was at the receiving end of crosses into the box and no one was rebounding off of long-range shot opportunities. NU couldn’t penetrate the steely backline making chances remote or stifled. This allowed for West Virginia to keep knocking.

In low-scoring sports, it is often said the third goal is the most deadly, and in this game it nailed the coffin. In the 28th minutes, midfielder Leah Emaus received a feed below the PK line and buried a low shot opposite of Clem to the far left post.

To cap the scoring off for the day, in the 36th minute, forward Kelsie Maloney one-timed it in front of the net to the near left post. This catapuled the Mountaineers to a program single-season record in team goals (56).

But, despite the heart-breaking finale, there is still plenty to celebrate.

“I can’t put into words how special this season was,” senior midfielder Nandi Mehta said. “I love every single one of these girls. The bar has been set high and this program has some big things ahead of it.”

This season was not only the program’s second time ever appearing in the Round of 32, but also the first time it was ranked nationally under Moynihan. In addition, it collected seven Big Ten wins and didn’t lose a game to a team not-ranked in the top 45 on the RPI.

Moynihan credited the team’s success to the seniors who played key roles, like Mehta and midfielder Niki Sebo, who was second on the team in goals with 5.

“You can carry this back a few years, we’ve been growing,” Moynihan said. “We talk a lot about the senior class and the character that they have shown. They really didn’t have role models to follow when they joined the program in terms of how to get to this level of success.”

The coach also added this group of seniors created a roadmap the rest of the team can follow going forward.

With this win, West Virginia advances to the Round of 16, where it will face Loyola Marymount on Sunday.

“Credit to West Virginia, they were a fantastic team,” Moynihan said. “We came in here with high hopes, and I think we put together a fantastic season.”

Email: [email protected]northwestern.edu