Women’s Soccer: Northwestern looks for fourth-consecutive win against Michigan State


Daily file photo by Oreste Visentini

McKenna Angotti fights a defender for the ball. The freshman midfielder and the Wildcats will face Michigan State on Wednesday.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

Women’s Soccer

The NCAA women’s soccer selection committee will soon analyze Northwestern’s qualifications for the field of 64, but the Wildcats are not interested in their playoff standing. They just hope to extend their winning streak to four on Wednesday and guarantee their postseason starts in Evanston.

NU (9-6-2, 6-3-1 Big Ten) travels to Michigan State (6-10-1, 2-7-1) with a chance to clinch a top-four seed in the Big Ten Tournament and secure home advantage in the first round. Despite the exciting stretch ahead, senior goalkeeper Lauren Clem, who earned Big Ten defensive player honors for the second-straight week, said the Cats believe in the “one game at a time” mantra.

“That’s exactly what we’re doing and that’s how we play our best,” Clem said. “At the start of this little three (game) streak, we knew from here on out we had to get a result in every one. Michigan State is next; whatever result we get then we’ll look forward from there.”

Entering the regular season finale, the Cats sit third in the Big Ten, within striking distance of second but in danger of falling to sixth with a loss. NU’s seed in the conference tournament, which starts Sunday, will also depend on five of the other six Big Ten games Wednesday. The Cats currently trail Penn State and lead Wisconsin, both by two points. The matchup between the Nittany Lions and Badgers will likely have an effect on where NU falls.

The Cats’ hot stretch began after a disheartening loss against Illinois, the No. 210 team in the RPI. Coach Michael Moynihan said though the loss hurt NU’s NCAA Tournament resume, the three-match win streak that followed reflects the team’s improved play.

“There was a little stretch in the season where we were letting some of the little details get away from us and we were sloppy,” Moynihan said. “When the rest of the team sensed that, we’ve really picked it up these last three games, and they’ve executed really well. … I don’t know the RPI ins-and-outs, but I know that this streak has given us a good chance.”

If the team lets its guard down and falls to Michigan State, its tournament resume will likely suffer. The Spartans have won their previous two home games, but their victories came against unranked Big Ten opponents. Their goal differential is the worst in the conference, as they have conceded 27 times in nine conference games. The Cats, meanwhile, have allowed just seven in conference play and 15 on the season.

Despite a relatively weak matchup with the postseason looming overhead, Moynihan said he hopes the team ignores playoff implications. The players echoed his message, and maintain they are focused on the game ahead.

“We’re still there. We can still make it in the Big Ten (and) earn our way into the NCAA Tournament,” senior defender Kassidy Gorman said. “Our morale is really high. We’re not where we want to be yet, but the Cats are still in the fight and we know that.”

Jake Liker contributed reporting.

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Twitter: @2021_Charlie