The Daily Northwestern

Women’s soccer: Wildcats miss chance to top conference standings

Kassidy Gorman kicks the ball. The senior defender and the Wildcats lost 2-0 to Purdue on Sunday.

Kassidy Gorman kicks the ball. The senior defender and the Wildcats lost 2-0 to Purdue on Sunday.

Daily file photo by Alec Carroll

Daily file photo by Alec Carroll

Kassidy Gorman kicks the ball. The senior defender and the Wildcats lost 2-0 to Purdue on Sunday.

Lucia Procopio, Reporter

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Women’s Soccer

Northwestern entered Sunday’s Big Ten showdown in Purdue with a chance to put itself atop the conference standings. Instead, the Wildcats came up empty, squandering an opportunity with the Big Ten Tournament quickly approaching.

The Boilermakers (9-2-1, 4-0-1 Big Ten) opened aggressively against NU (6-5-2, 3-2-1), controlling possession from the get-go and pressuring the Cats’ defense throughout the game. Although both teams logged a similar number of attempts and shots on goal, Purdue edged NU with two decisive strikes.

After Penn State’s loss to Ohio State on Saturday, the Cats had a chance to rise atop the conference leaderboard, but instead sit tied for third with five regular season games remaining.

Action intensified in the 20th and 21st minutes with back-to-back saves from senior goalkeeper Lauren Clem. On the ensuing possession, Boilermakers midfielder Kylie Hase tapped in a ball that escaped Clem amid a chaotic corner lift, putting Purdue ahead 1-0.

Coach Michael Moynihan said the pressure may have gotten to his team after Purdue’s first goal, and that the added stakes entering the contest made for extra tension.

“Purdue scored on an unusual set piece we haven’t really seen before,” Moynihan said. “They sent five people up into the corner kick, and we didn’t really know how to deal with that in the moment.”

In the 58th minute, a rebound off the crossbar found its way to Hase, who scored her second goal of the game. Junior defender Kayla Sharples said the Boilermakers’ unusual tactics broke down the NU defense, throwing it off guard.

“We got in our own heads,” Sharples said. “We didn’t do too well on keeping our composure and capitalizing on Purdue’s mistakes.”

Down 0-2, the Cats transitioned their focus to attacking on offense, working down the field instead of clearing the ball.

NU senior midfielder Kim Jerantowski, first-year midfielder Regan Steigleder and junior forward Brenna Lovera collectively attempted seven shots, but all were either wide or stopped by Boilermakers goalkeeper Katie Luce.

The Cats’ best scoring opportunity came in the 83rd minute. Steigleder pitched a free kick into the six-yard box to Sharples, but Luce immediately pounced and recovered possession, finalizing the tally as time expired.

Now tied for third in the conference standings, NU aims to learn from Sunday’s game and is looking forward to Saturday’s matchup against crosstown rival Illinois.

“We’ll be able to go back over this game,” senior defender Kassidy Gorman said. “It was a tough one for us, but we’ll be able to come back composed and more unified in the next game.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misstated Northwestern’s place in the Big Ten standings. The Wildcats are tied for third. The Daily regrets the error.