The Daily Northwestern

Women’s Soccer: Northwestern ties No. 12 Rutgers, beats Maryland over weekend

Brenna Lovera prepares to shoot. The junior forward scored a goal in Northwestern’s win over Maryland on Sunday.

Brenna Lovera prepares to shoot. The junior forward scored a goal in Northwestern’s win over Maryland on Sunday.

Alec Carroll/The Daily Northwestern

Alec Carroll/The Daily Northwestern

Brenna Lovera prepares to shoot. The junior forward scored a goal in Northwestern’s win over Maryland on Sunday.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

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Women’s Soccer

Junior forward Brenna Lovera said Northwestern’s 0-0 draw against No. 12 Rutgers on Friday was decided by a marginal difference. In coach Michael Moynihan’s opinion, NU was able to overcome that difference Sunday to fuel a 2-0 win against Maryland.

NU (5-4-2, 2-1-1 Big Ten) faced a difficult pair of conference opponents over the weekend at Martin Stadium. The Cats tied Rutgers (8-0-2, 2-0-1), beat Maryland (7-2-1, 1-2) 2-0 and earned four points that put them in third place in the Big Ten.

Despite Rutgers’ cumulative 22-0 scoring margin over the course of this season, the Cats outshot an opponent that junior defender Kayla Sharples said was the most physically and emotionally demanding one yet.

Moynihan said NU was the better team Friday night and was frustrated by the result.

“We never play to tie,” he said. “They put an awful lot of effort in and you walk away with a tie after so many tough chances. It’s tough to walk away with a draw, but it’s against a quality opponent and it will help us in the end.”

While three Cats had multiple shots, and the team had 13 total shots, the Scarlet Knights were limited to only six. Their best opportunity came in the game’s second overtime when senior goalkeeper Lauren Clem dove at Rutgers’ sophomore Carina Hendley in a one-on-one chance the net. Clem stole the ball and saved the game.

Clem said Friday’s performance boosted the team’s confidence and sparked a better match on Sunday. Maryland had only lost once in the Big Ten this season, but the Cats scored twice in the first half. Clem added that the aggressive start confirmed her belief in the team’s ability to improve and finish scoring chances Sunday.

“We knew in the back of our minds that this was a team we could beat from the start,” Clem said. “Offensively, we are staying calm. We’re realizing that we’re better if we build from the back. … The goals will come if we stay focused and do it as a group.”

It only took 16 minutes for the Cats to score Sunday when Lovera pounced on a loose ball deflected by a Maryland defender off a corner kick. Four minutes later, junior midfielder Marisa Viggiano fired another corner into the box. Junior defender Hannah Davison, who said she was supposed to be the decoy, called for the ball and leaped over the top of a Rutgers defender. Her header gave NU a 2-0 lead that the Terrapins could not overcome.

Davison credited the Cats’ high energy to the successful performance, acknowledging her teammates’ hustle on the field and energy on the bench.

“We still have a huge target on our back,” Davison said. “We got our ground back under us and are ready to fight for this Big Ten Championship. It’s a pretty big four points. We take these points and keep building off of it.”

Though Moynihan would not concede that NU had hit its stride, he said the Cats are on an upward trajectory. He admits they need to generate more scoring chances, but said he sees the defense’s three consecutive shutout performances as a sign of their potential to continue to improve.

“They’re gelling in the back and feeling a lot more confident,” Moynihan said. “We’re in a good place right now. Hopefully we can carry some momentum with us.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misstated Rutgers’ cumulative scoring margin before its match against Northwestern. The Scarlet Knights had outscored opponents 22-0 on the season. The Daily regrets the error.

Twitter: @2021_charlie