Women’s Soccer: Wildcats look to stay focused ahead of Iowa matchup


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Lauren Clem punts the ball downfield. The junior goalkeeper was busy against Michigan on Sunday, notching a career-high 11 saves.

Garrett Jochnau, Sports Web Producer

Women’s Soccer

Last Sunday’s win over Michigan opened new doors for No. 22 Northwestern, putting it a point behind first place in the Big Ten and making its goal of winning the conference’s regular season title feasible with four games remaining.

But even with an easier matchup against Iowa (7-8-0, 1-6-0 Big Ten) awaiting them Thursday, the Wildcats (12-1-1, 5-1-1) are hesitant to think big-picture.

“(We’re) treating every game as the game that’s going to get us into the Big Ten Tournament,” senior midfielder Rachel Zampa said. “We’re not going to take anything lightly. We know on any given day, anything can happen, so we’re trying to focus on our own strengths … as opposed to being content with where we are.”

NU’s strengths were evident against Michigan, where a career-high 11 saves from goalkeeper Lauren Clem anchored a defense that found its footing in the second half. The Cats’ scrappy style of offensive play helped produce a pair of goals from inside the box, with set pieces playing a big role in the 2-1 victory.

Now, they’ll look to get their defense back on track for a full 90 minutes and to weather the loss of top-scorer Brenna Lovera to an ACL injury.

“One of our focuses this year has been our attacking third,” Zampa said. “We need that attacking mentality. We need to find more people that can go in and make that difference, just like (sophomore midfielder) Olivia (Korhonen) did in the last game, to come into the game and make that impact in that final third.”

Though Iowa is tied for last place in the Big Ten, its only conference losses by more than one goal have come against Ohio State, Penn State and Minnesota, teams in top half of the Big Ten standings.

On top of that, the Cats lose home-field advantage as they prepare for a two-game away trip. Thus far this season, NU has gone 8-0-0 in Evanston and 4-1-1 on the road.

“Traveling is always a different environment,” Korhonen said after Sunday’s win. “We just have to keep our heads in it.”

As they search for a rhythm in preparation for the regular season’s home stretch, the Cats will also look to use each contest as a springboard to improve, all while balancing their long-term goals with the individual tasks ahead.

“(We need to) keep trying to improve instead of getting caught up in results and rankings,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “That all sorts itself out at the end of the season. Go into every game knowing that … the last place team beat the first place team in the conference. On any given day, anything can happen.”

Email: garrettjochnau2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @GarrettJochnau