Women’s Soccer: Wildcats seek signature win amid East Coast road trip


Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Kourtney Scott avoids a defender. The senior defender and the Wildcats hit the road this weekend in search of a signature win after a 9-0-0 start to the season.

Garrett Jochnau, Sports Web Producer

Women’s Soccer

No. 21 Northwestern has left little to be desired in their undefeated start to the season. Eight of their victories have come in shutout fashion, including six straight the Wildcats will ride into its upcoming slate of games.

But missing from the resume is the coveted statement win — the kind of win that captures national attention and opens the eyes of even the most ardent skeptics. When the Cats (9-0-0, 2-0 Big Ten) travel to Piscataway, New Jersey, to take on No. 22 Rutgers (6-1-1, 1-0) on Friday, they’ll have that opportunity. Sunday’s Maryland contest offers yet another chance to solidify their top-tier status.

The team knows, however, that nothing will come easy this weekend. A consistent Big Ten powerhouse, the Scarlet Knights will be NU’s toughest competition yet, and the matchup with Maryland (2-6-1, 1-0) will test the the Cats’ endurance and grit.

“This’ll be our first Friday, Sunday set of games so it’s definitely going to be a challenge,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “Our depth will be tested as well as our ability to grind it out.”

But even with the challenges ahead, the Cats are optimistic about their chances.

Rutgers has been a formidable foe for NU the past two seasons, though the Cats emerged with a 1-0 victory in each of their two matchups. This year, NU enters with a target on its back, but also with more momentum in the previous instances.

“I think they’re going to be looking for revenge,” said Kaitlin Moore, a graduate student and member of the team’s celebrated defensive unit. “To be able to put them down again would be really awesome.”

To do that, the Cats will look to continue their dominance in the backfield. Especially after back-to-back defensive battles with the Scarlet Knights, NU will need another perfect showing from its back four to secure a 10th straight win.

Moynihan is hopeful that the Cats will bring their hallmark intensity out of the gate, while Moore says the defense will look to pressure opponents higher up the field.

Although the defense will set the tone, NU will look to the offense to build cushions and relieve some of the pressure.

“We’re trying to see if we can challenge them on offense — if we can get a couple goals just to have a little net,” junior goalkeeper Lauren Clem said. “(That way) if we make a mistake, it’s not going to cost us at the end of the day.”

The Cats are well aware of the importance of the upcoming slate. Clem said the team’s goal is to finish in the top three in the Big Ten, and two more wins — including one over Rutgers — would certainly put them in a good position to do so.

With a good balance of respect for their opponents and confidence in their own abilities, NU will be ready for the task at hand.

“We haven’t had a huge challenge yet,” Moore said. “So I definitely think it would show the Big Ten that we’re a force to be reckoned with.”

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