Women’s Soccer: Northwestern earns at-large bid, will host Butler in 1st round of NCAA Tournament


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Brenna Lovera runs between two defenders. The junior forward and the Wildcats earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and will play Butler on Sunday.

Jonah Dylan and Garrett Jochnau

Women’s Soccer

Northwestern is going dancing for the third straight season.

The Wildcats (12-7-2, 7-3-1 Big Ten) earned an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament and will host Butler (13-2-5, 5-0-4 Big East) on Sunday. If NU wins its first-round game, it will advance to play the winner of the match between San Diego State and No. 2 UCLA.

The Cats earned their bid after a remarkable midseason turnaround. After losing to Purdue and Illinois in consecutive matches, NU reeled off six consecutive wins — two of which came in the Big Ten Tournament.

The Cats ultimately fell to Penn State in the tournament’s Sunday final in an emotional 2-1 loss in the rain.

After the contest, senior goalkeeper Lauren Clem said the team needed to move on. When NU begins its national tournament run Sunday, it will have one final shot to send Clem and the senior class out on a high note.

In last season’s NCAA Tournament, the Cats fell to then-No. 3 Duke 1-0 in the Sweet 16. NU’s backline turned in another impressive performance, but was unable to completely silence the Blue Devils’ dynamic attack.

The Cats face a difficult road to a Sweet 16 return, let alone their first-ever Elite Eight. NU fell to Butler 3-2 in an August road exhibition, but in season play the Cats are 4-0 against the Bulldogs.

With an early exit on the line, the Cats will look to extend that streak in Evanston on Sunday.

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Twitter: @thejonahdylan

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @GarrettJochnau