The Daily Northwestern

Women’s Soccer: Wildcats face Minnesota with chance to turn around Big Ten season

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Kassidy Gorman dribbles the ball. The senior defender will help anchor the Wildcats’ back line in their upcoming match against Minnesota.

Kassidy Gorman dribbles the ball. The senior defender will help anchor the Wildcats’ back line in their upcoming match against Minnesota.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Kassidy Gorman dribbles the ball. The senior defender will help anchor the Wildcats’ back line in their upcoming match against Minnesota.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

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Women’s Soccer


Northwestern opened its season hoping to repeat as Big Ten champions, but the Wildcats are now closer to last place than first in the conference standings.

NU (6-6-2, 3-3-1 Big Ten) sits seventh in the Big Ten, and enters its pivotal Thursday match against No. 23 Minnesota (9-2-3, 5-1-1) in dire need of a win.

“We are so focused on making the Big Ten Tournament and hopefully winning it,” junior defender Kayla Sharples said. “As long as we stick together as a team we don’t need to do a whole lot more, except score some goals and win some games.”

Only the top eight teams make the Big Ten Tournament, and NU is in danger of not qualifying if it continues to struggle. Depending on their result against the Golden Gophers, the Cats could land anywhere between fourth and 11th in the standings entering the season’s homestretch.

Sharples said NU knows its season is on the brink and sees its three consecutive home matches as a way to solidify a successful campaign.

“I’m actually excited to play the next couple of games,” she said. “The girls are stepping up and have the confidence to score and win some games for us.”

The Cats shared last season’s conference title with Penn State and Minnesota, but a 1-0 loss Saturday at Illinois effectively spoiled NU’s chance to repeat as regular season champions.

Coach Michael Moynihan expressed frustration over the missed opportunity.

“We’ve had some moments of really good soccer, but we’ve just had a few rough results lately,” he said. “If you look at the last few games we’ve dominated the play. It’s just a matter of technical execution. When we’re controlling pretty much every aspect of the game, you just have to look at those crucial moments.”

Dominating possessions, however, has not led to many goals for the Cats, especially in conference play.

In their seven non-conference games, the Cats scored nine goals, but in the same number of Big Ten games they have scored just five, tied for the third-lowest figure in the conference.

Senior defender Kassidy Gorman said NU has recognized areas of play that need improvement.

“We do a lot of reflection after our games, so we know what we can improve on,” she said. “It’s definitely been great knowing we have the whole team on the same page. We’re all striving toward the same goal.”

The scoring is missing, but Gorman said the rest of the pieces are all in place for a deep tournament run.

She said the Cats’ mentality, chemistry and intensity set them apart from competitors vying for a top-four seed, and that their goals for the season remain unchanged.

“We’re still aiming for that Big Ten championship title,” she said. “I know that our record is 3-3-1 right now, but we’re definitely still in play for that.”

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

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