Women’s Soccer: Wildcats bolster tournament resume with shutout win against Wisconsin


Daily file photo by Oreste Visentini

McKenna Angotti kicks the ball. The freshman midfielder scored a goal in Northwestern’s win over Wisconsin on Sunday

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

Women’s Soccer

Coach Michael Moynihan knew Northwestern needed to increase its tenacity after two Big Ten losses last week. Sunday, against Wisconsin, junior defender Hannah Davison was just one player who responded to the coach’s message.

Early in the first half, she collided with a Wisconsin forward and fell hard on the foot that sidelined her earlier this season. A minute later, she lept for a bicycle kick that was blocked by a Badgers defender but set an aggressive tone for the rest of the match.

After the game, Davison said she needed to punish the Badgers line that sent her to the ground.

The Wildcats (8-6-2, 5-3-1 Big Ten) tallied two first-half goals against Wisconsin (10-4-2, 4-3-2) in their second consecutive shutout win. NU’s two quick strikes put an exclamation point on a flawless home stretch that senior midfielder Grace Orndorff said raised the team’s confidence.

“It shows a lot of character of our team,” she said. “Our win percentage isn’t as great as it was last year, but we have really been focusing on bouncing back and staying together as a team. Today, we did that well.”

The Cats’ win vaulted them to fourth in the Big Ten, as NU helped bolster its postseason resume with two goals just minutes apart.

In the 37th minute, freshman midfielder McKenna Angotti notched her second goal of the year, striking junior forward Brenna Lovera’s cross into the back of the net. Two minutes later, Orndorff celebrated her senior day with a diving header that gave the Cats a 2-0 lead they never relinquished.

After NU was shut out by Illinois, one of the lowest ranked teams in the conference, Moynihan said his team needed immediate improvements. Now, he said he’s satisfied with the Cats’ effort and level of play as they move closer to the postseason.

“The Big Ten is tough, it’s a total grind,” he said. “I feel that our team comes out with really good energy every day, but the bigger the game the more hyped up they get.”

As NU’s offense pushed forward, Moynihan said Wisconsin never had a legitimate opportunity to score.

Senior goalkeeper Lauren Clem recorded her 44th career shutout, moving into a tie for seventh in NCAA history. The veteran has not allowed a goal at home in Big Ten play this season.

Orndorff said the stellar defense that propelled the team to a conference title last season is again showing its strength, especially against the Big Ten’s toughest competition. The Cats are 3-1-1 against the conference’s top six teams, a trend she said bodes well for an NCAA Tournament field stacked with quality competition.

“Playing against good teams brings out the best in our team,” Orndorff said. “It takes a higher level of focus, and with that we excel. … We do well against good teams. If we’re able to get there, then we have enough spirit in our team to be able to do well.”

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Twitter: @2021_Charlie