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Women’s Soccer: Wildcats take first place in Big Ten with comeback over Indiana

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Michele Chernesky goes after the ball. The junior midfielder scored the game-winning goal in Thursday’s victory over Indiana.

Michele Chernesky goes after the ball. The junior midfielder scored the game-winning goal in Thursday’s victory over Indiana.

Daily file photo by Alec Carroll

Daily file photo by Alec Carroll

Michele Chernesky goes after the ball. The junior midfielder scored the game-winning goal in Thursday’s victory over Indiana.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

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Women’s Soccer


Momentum is swinging in Northwestern’s favor as it continues Big Ten play. After conceding a goal to Indiana in the first minute of Thursday’s match, the Wildcats notched two in the second half to complete a comeback and take first place in the Big Ten.

Nine of NU’s last 13 matchups against Indiana have been decided by one goal, and the latest meeting featured more of the same. The Cats (6-4-2, 3-1-1 Big Ten) beat the Hoosiers (5-5-2, 1-2-1) 2-1 in Bloomington after junior midfielder Michele Chernesky finished junior midfielder Marisa Viggiano’s cross to give the visitors the lead in the 70th minute. Two saves by senior goalkeeper Lauren Clem in the final minutes clinched the victory.

In the first minute, Indiana forward Maya Piper gathered a loose ball and shifted past an NU defender who had fallen to the ground. After passing the Cats’ back line, Piper struck a left-footed attempt past Clem. After the goal, Clem and junior defender Kayla Sharples pulled their teammates together in a huddle.

“When they scored their first goal, we all just took a little mental break and were like, ‘We need to start working hard for each other,’” freshman forward Regan Steigleder said. “For the rest of the game, we took momentum to win it.”

While the motivation initiated improved play, NU remained scoreless until the 51st minute when Steigleder scored after junior forward Brenna Lovera beat an Indiana defender down the sideline and served a cross in the box.

Steigleder’s header marked the first goal of her college career. The freshman recently moved from midfield to attack, and coach Michael Moynihan has been impressed with her transition.

“She’s just a heck of a player. She’s got great instincts for the game, a good athlete and very good technically,” Moynihan said. “That’s the player we knew we were getting when we recruited her, and she certainly hasn’t disappointed.”

The victory moved the Cats atop the Big Ten with six conference games left, tied with No. 6 Penn State and Purdue, which NU plays Sunday. Though the Cats are tied for first, they have played one more game than the Nittany Lions and the Boilermakers.

Purdue has not lost yet in conference play, but it tied Indiana last weekend, giving NU more confidence entering its next match.

“We’ve finally all clicked as a team,” Steigleder said. “We’re all working hard for each other, and we’re getting momentum.”

Email: charlesgoldsmith2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @2021_Charlie

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