Women’s Soccer: Northwestern upsets No. 23 Minnesota, snaps two-game skid


Oreste Visentini/The Daily Northwestern

Lauren Clem jumps to make a save. The senior goalkeeper turned in a clean sheet in Northwestern’s 2-0 win over Minnesota on Thursday.

Jake Liker, Reporter

Women’s Soccer

Entering Thursday night, Northwestern had lost its previous two contests. Minnesota, ranked No. 23 in the nation, claimed a five-game winning streak. In a critical conference showdown, the odds were not in the Wildcats’ favor.

But NU (7-6-2, 4-3-1 Big Ten) prevailed 2-0 over the visiting Golden Gophers (9-3-3, 5-2-1), snapping both streaks as a cohesive unit.

“The chemistry with the whole team is really great,” junior midfielder Michele Chernesky said. “Everyone’s been trying to get to goal. I think that’s one thing we’ve been working on a lot, so I think everyone has had a really good attacking mentality.”

After 20 minutes of scoreless action, NU’s hard work was rewarded. Off a corner kick, senior defender Kassidy Gorman delivered a curling cross into a crowd at the back post. Minnesota goalkeeper Kailee Sharp denied junior midfielder Hannah Davison’s header, but junior forward Brenna Lovera’s rebound lifted the Cats ahead 1-0.

The Golden Gophers nearly tied the game in the 37th minute when forward April Bockin lost a one-on-one chance against senior goalkeeper Lauren Clem.

“We go through these plays all the time in practice, so it’s just staying disciplined and not getting worked up in the moment,” Clem said. “Just a simple save and I had my defense there to clear it out afterwards.”

NU doubled its lead with a goal in the 44th minute. Davison had a free kick from the Cats’ side of the pitch and noticed the Golden Gophers holding a high line. She chipped the ball over a crowd, and Chernesky connected from point-blank range.

It’s no coincidence that both of the Cats’ goals came off set pieces, said Davison, who recorded two assists on the night.

“In practice this week we really worked on our set pieces,” she said. “We knew that that was something we could capitalize on; we’re really dangerous in the air.”

NU emerged from halftime with a defensive approach, absorbing waves of Minnesota attacks. The Golden Gophers outshot the Cats 9-2 after the break.

But Clem made seven saves on the night, recording the 43rd clean sheet of her career — a mark that vaulted her into the NCAA’s all-time top 10 in that category.

“To me, it’s definitely a team stat first,” Clem said of the shutouts. “Tonight, Hannah and Kayla (Sharples) stopped plenty of shots in front of us before it even gets to me. So while it’s nice to have my name on it, it’s definitely nice to get Northwestern up there in the standings, and it’s definitely a team effort for sure.”

NU jumped from seventh place in the Big Ten to tied for fifth, with its penultimate home game against Wisconsin looming Sunday. For now, coach Michael Moynihan’s goal is clear.

“Win Sunday,” Moynihan said. “We’ve got to win against Wisconsin, we’re just taking it one game at a time.”

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