Women’s Soccer: Wildcats hopeful to qualify for the NCAA Tournament


Daily file photo by David Lee

Hannah Davison strikes the ball. The senior defender is trying to remain optimistic that the Wildcats will qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Charlie Goldsmith, Sports Social Media Editor

Women’s Soccer

Having to go through two weeks without any games has turned coach Michael Moynihan into an RPI expert who’s obsessed with the numbers.

After tying last Sunday in the regular season finale at Iowa and failing to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern (10-4-4, 4-4-3 Big Ten) has to wait until Monday to learn if the team qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

It’s been so long that Moynihan can easily recite the Wildcats’ case to make the tournament.

“If you look last year at the difference between people in the high 30s and the low 50s, it was like four hundredths of a point,” he said. “There’s hardly any difference, and this year it’s going to be even (closer)… There’s teams that are ahead of of by like fifteen in the RPI, but we’ve still got better wins and when you look at the results, ours look better.”

This week, he called a member of the NCAA Tournament selection committee to better understand the selection process and how the committee uses the RPI. While he was on the phone, Moynihan also tried to highlight NU’s quality wins over the course of the season, a feature on the Cats’ resume that he thinks other bubble teams lack.

No. 53 NU beat No. 29 Wake Forest and tied No. 14 West Virginia in August and upset No. 25 Penn State in September. Even though the Cats finished a difficult nonconference schedule with an unbeaten record, NU failed to beat multiple teams at the bottom of the Big Ten, including No. 154 Maryland and 109 Iowa.

Moynihan has been closely paying attention to how teams the Cats beat in the regular season are faring in their conference tournaments, knowing each win improves NU’s RPI. The entire team has been rooting for No. 1 seed Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament because the more the Nittany Lions win, the higher they go in the rankings and the better chance the Cats have.

But according to senior defender Hannah Davison, while the players have been paying attention to the games, they haven’t been analyzing the numbers like Moynihan.

“Right now it’s important for us to focus on that we’re going to get in,” Davison said. “We can’t look at these numbers, and it’s happened before where there’s been cases where people haven’t made their conference tournament and gotten in.”

Even though three low seeds advanced to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals and the fourth — Penn State — is a team the Cats have already beaten, Davison said they aren’t disappointed to be in the position they’re in.

Moynihan has designed practices to mirror ones from the regular season, including the same warmup drills and competition at the end of practice. At Wednesday’s practice, Moynihan divided the underclassmen and upperclassmen into separate teams, and the underclassmen won the condensed game 4-0.

As she’s tried to maintain her routine, senior forward Brenna Lovera hasn’t let the fact that she might not play another game cross her mind. Instead, she’s focused on bringing up the team back to playing at the level they were at earlier in the season.

“It doesn’t matter until Monday, when you’re called or you aren’t,” she said. “You can go over numbers and stats until you die, basically. We’re just holding onto that little bit of hope that they feel for us and they let us in.”

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