Women’s Soccer: Northwestern beats Michigan State, secures home field advantage in Big Ten Tournament


Daily file photo by Oreste Visentini

Lauren Clem punts the ball. The senior made five saves to record her fourth straight clean sheet and extend her shutout streak to 381 minutes.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

Women’s Soccer

Senior goalkeeper Lauren Clem sealed Northwestern’s 1-0 victory in its regular season finale against Michigan State with a last-minute diving save.

It took the Wildcats (10-6-2, 7-3-1 Big Ten) longer than they hoped to get on the board against an aggressive Spartans defense. But NU extended its winning streak to four, defeating Michigan State (6-11-1, 2-8-1) with a goal by junior forward Brenna Lovera in the 62nd minute.

“We’ve been coming out these last few games with really high energy, and that needs to continue,” junior midfielder Marisa Viggiano said. “We’ve been playing great over the past four games, and we want to keep the momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament.”

Lovera’s goal, the eighth game-winner of her career, was enough for the Cats to get a much needed three points in the standings.

After senior defender Kassidy Gorman’s shot was deflected by Michigan State goalkeeper Reilley Ott, Lovera redirected it into the net and gave the visitors a 1-goal lead. NU’s shutdown defense, which has not conceded a goal in four consecutive matches, took care of the rest.

Following their victory, the Cats tuned into other Big Ten matches, which determined the opponents that lay ahead for them in the Big Ten Tournament.

Before making it back to Evanston, they found out that Purdue was coming next.

NU, which finished second in the conference, did not know it they would be playing in its next game until hours after the match ended. When Wisconsin beat Penn State 1-0 later Wednesday night, it meant the Cats would host Purdue on Sunday.

Though NU was looking toward the postseason on the trip back, coach Michael Moynihan said the team’s priority coming into Wednesday’s match was winning and securing home-field advantage in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

“What we emphasized prior was taking care of business and not to worry about any standings,” he said. “We’d love to do something that has never been done before, and this moment isn’t something that overwhelms them.”

The Cats have the longest active winning streak in the conference, and Clem said NU is excited to move into the part of the season where there is no margin for error. She said two consecutive losses to Illinois and Purdue inspired the team to emphasize the importance of every match.

When the Cats played the Boilermakers in October, Purdue was undefeated and in first place in the Big Ten. After beating NU 2-0 in West Lafayette, Purdue lost four straight and stumbled into the postseason by beating last-place Maryland in its final match.

Arguably the hottest team in the conference, NU hopes to extend its success into its first Big Ten Tournament Championship.

Even though the Spartans had some dangerous chances and were nearly spoilers, Clem said the Cats are reaching peak form and are excited for postseason to start.

“(Michigan State) had some great shots tonight, but it’s nothing I don’t see in training every day,” she said. “Something that’s unique to this year is that we’re controlling how we end up. We know that if we can win these games it will put us in a better position.”

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Twitter: @2021_Charlie