Women’s Soccer: Wildcats suffer first loss to Rutgers, rebound against Maryland


Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Marisa Viggiano dribbles at a defender. The sophomore midfielder had a goal and an assist in Northwestern’s 4-1 victory over Maryland on Sunday.

Garrett Jochnau, Sports Web Producer

Northwestern suffered its first loss of the season against Rutgers on Friday, but quickly redeemed itself with a 4-1 rout of Maryland Sunday afternoon.

After dominating opponents through the season’s first nine games, the No. 21 Wildcats (10-1-0, 3-1-0 Big Ten) entered Friday’s conference matchup against the No. 22 Scarlet Knights (7-1-2, 2-0-1) looking to solidify their status as a Big Ten powerhouse. However, the team struggled off the bat offensively and managed a mere three shots all day. Just one of those shots came on goal — an attempt from sophomore midfielder Marisa Viggiano that was saved.

Rutgers, on the other hand, notched 20 attempts, eight of which were on target and two of which found the back of the net. Though junior goalkeeper Lauren Clem walked away with a season-high six saves, the team’s inability to match the Scarlet Knights’ intensity doomed them to a 2-0 defeat.

“They’re a very good team,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “To get our first loss of the year was emotionally draining.”

But the weekend provided an opportunity for redemption. Sunday offered NU the chance to get back on track — and the team wasted little time reestablishing themselves as a force in the Big Ten.

After Friday’s offensive washout, the Cats emerged against Maryland (3-7-1, 1-2-0) with a newfound fire, scoring three goals before halftime and logging their first in the fourth minute of the game.

The first score came off a corner kick by Viggiano, with junior midfielder Kassidy Gorman extending their lead soon after and senior attacker Maria Grygleski strengthening their cushion before halftime with another score off a corner. Sophomore defender Kayla Sharples logged the team’s final goal in the second half, heading in a corner from Viggiano in the 80th minute.

The shooting onslaught came without help from sophomore forward Brenna Lovera, who missed the game with an undisclosed injury.

Freshman forward Maddy Lucas started in her stead. Lucas logged a game-high four shots — two of which were on target — and assisted on Gorman’s goal.

“In Rutgers, we really weren’t getting a lot of shots off,” Lucas said. “I just really wanted to go out this game and … make an impact early on.”

That impact helped render the Terrapins’ late penalty-kick score meaningless and was something that had been a point of emphasis during the team’s brief break between contests.

Moynihan said he believed that the team did plenty of things well in Friday’s game but could have benefitted from more aggression around the net. On Sunday, the change in mentality showed.

“You don’t really talk about, ‘We need to get three goals in the first 15, 20 minutes,’ ever,” he said. “The overall mentality is what we stressed.”

And with plenty of the season remaining, getting back on track — both mentally and from a success standpoint — puts the team in a good position to chase its goal of finishing in the conference’s top three.

Even with a blemish in the record, the Cats remain a top team in the conference and used Sunday’s blowout to prove it.

“The best thing for us was just to keep up a positive attitude because it’s always hard to get the first loss,” graduate defender Kaitlin Moore said. “Emphasizing a lot of positivity and encouragement was the biggest thing to help people get back to what we knew we could be.”

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