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Women’s Soccer: Defenses shine as Northwestern fights to scoreless draw at Nebraska

Kayla+Sharples+controls+the+ball+in+the+back.+The+sophomore+defender+helped+anchor+Northwestern%E2%80%99s+defense+to+its+12th+shutout+of+the+season+at+Nebraska+on+Sunday.
Kayla Sharples controls the ball in the back. The sophomore defender helped anchor Northwestern’s defense to its 12th shutout of the season at Nebraska on Sunday.

Kayla Sharples controls the ball in the back. The sophomore defender helped anchor Northwestern’s defense to its 12th shutout of the season at Nebraska on Sunday.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Kayla Sharples controls the ball in the back. The sophomore defender helped anchor Northwestern’s defense to its 12th shutout of the season at Nebraska on Sunday.

Robbie Markus, Assistant Sports Editor

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Women’s Soccer


Going into its game at Nebraska on Sunday, No. 22 Northwestern was one win away from first place in Big Ten conference standings. But for now, the Wildcats will have to settle for second.

NU (13-1-2, 6-1-2 Big Ten) stuck with the Cornhuskers (10-5-2, 4-3-2) for 110 minutes, resulting in a scoreless, double-overtime draw after both teams failed to find the net.

Going in, the game seemed to be a matchup of strengths. Nebraska’s forward Jaycie Johnson and midfielder Haley Hanson have combined for 17 goals this year, while junior goalkeeper Lauren Clem and the Cats’ defense had notched 11 clean sheets in 15 games going into Sunday.

NU’s defense again shined, earning another shutout in a game where the Cats only allowed four shots on goal. Coach Michael Moynihan said he loved the tough mentality Clem and the defense have fostered this year.

“They’re willing to do whatever it takes,” Moynihan said. “Sliding, diving, whatever they need to do to put their body in front to block shots. … They respect that about each other.”

Despite the solid performance, graduate defender Kaitlin Moore said the defense had trouble adjusting to Nebraska’s 4-4-2 formation before a halftime tactical change helped NU better contain the Cornhuskers. Nebraska managed 10 shots in the first half, but just five in the second half.

Meanwhile, Nebraska’s defense gave the Cats similar problems. Although Moynihan said NU had some great chances, it simply couldn’t find a way to get the ball into the back of the net.

Junior midfielder Kassidy Gorman, who has recently thrived at forward in place of other injured attackers, said the team wasn’t disappointed with the draw.

“We tried to get as many chances as we could, knowing that we were playing a tough and brutal team,” Gorman said. “We’re very happy coming out with a tie.”

Despite the point picked up in the draw, goal production has been a consistent problem for the Cats, who now have had eight games with one goal scored or fewer. On Sunday, NU managed two shots on goal and took just five shots in the 110-minute game.

Moore said NU may try to get the defense more involved in the offense to create more opportunities.

“In some of our earlier games, we tried to get our outside backs involved in the attack,” Moore said. “That’s something we’ll try to do going forward.”

The Cats now sit in a tie for second with Minnesota in the Big Ten standings, one point behind conference-leading Penn State. For an NU team with a goal of winning the conference, the Cats’ next matchup at home against Minnesota now takes on greater importance.

Email: robinsonmarkus2019@u.northwestern.edu

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