Women’s Soccer: Northwestern upset by Illinois in Champaign


(Daily file photo by Alec Carroll)

Michele Chernesky kicks the ball. The junior defender and the Wildcats lost 1-0 to Illinois on Saturday night.

Jonah Dylan, Sports Editor

Women’s Soccer

For the most part, Northwestern and Illinois’ rivalry is more of a story than a real thing. But nobody told the Fighting Illini that.

Illinois (5-10-0, 2-5-0 Big Ten) scored on Kara Marbury’s header in the 69th minute to beat the Wildcats (6-6-2, 3-3-1) on Saturday night in Champaign. With the 1-0 result, NU took its second-straight loss.

“We’re extremely frustrated and disappointed,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “I thought the team came out with really good energy and conviction tonight and we pretty much dominated for the entire match. I think Illinois only had one legitimate even attempt at goal and that was the one they scored on.”

NU is coming off a disappointing loss at Purdue, where it was also shut out. The Cats have now been held scoreless in three of their last five matches.

This loss will sting even more because NU outshot the Fighting Illini 13-5 and was in control for most of the game. But Illinois drew a corner kick in the 69th minute, and Marbury redirected Lauren Ciesla’s cross past Lauren Clem into the back of the net.

“They had a great cross and a great finish,” Clem, a senior goalkeeper, said. “We just need to be a little bit tighter on our marks and push them outside the box more, because other than that, they didn’t have too many chances and we definitely controlled a lot of the game.”

Illinois mustered just two shots on goal for the match, while the Cats had six. Senior defender Kassidy Gorman had a game-high four shots and freshman midfielder Madi Kennel added two, but NU failed to find the back of the net.

Although the game was held in Champaign, NU’s loss was surprising. The Fighting Illini are ranked No. 191 in RPI, which Moynihan said could hurt the Cats’ NCAA Tournament hopes at the end of the season.

Moynihan said after the game, the team’s mood was somber.

“You could’ve heard a pin drop afterward,” he said. “It’s one of the tough things about soccer sometimes, it’s difficult to score goals and sometimes the team that gets outplayed walks away with a victory.”

After winning a share of the Big Ten regular season championship in 2016, NU now sits in seventh place in the conference with four matches to play. Moynihan said the team is focused on qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament and ultimately going to the NCAA Tournament.

Despite the losing streak, junior midfielder Marisa Viggiano said the team is still confident moving forward.

“Every game we play to win,” Viggiano said. “That’s the mindset that we have going into every game. These next four games are really important for us and we want to come out on top.”

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