Svirnovskiy: The Cats are looking for wins — but first, they need to score


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Kayleigh Stahlschmidt runs for the ball. The junior forward took two shots on goal in the Cats last win against Cincinnati almost a month ago.

Greg Svirnovskiy, Assistant Sports Editor

This season wasn’t going to be like the other ones for Northwestern. After four straight years of ten or more wins, including the Wildcats’ second ever run to the sweet 16 of the National Tournament in 2016, there was always going to be a rebuild.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t hurt though.

After 10 seniors graduated last year, including sharp shooter forward Brenna Lovera and the dependable defender Kayla Sharples, who now plays for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League, NU now has a young and untested squad in its wake.

The inexperience shows, even amid spurts of good play. Despite winning only twice in eight games so far this year, the Cats have outshot opponents 72-59 and almost doubled them in corners, 41-24. The problem thus far has been finishing, as NU has settled for losses or draws in matchups that they’ve dominated.

On Aug. 22, the Cats lost 1-0 to SMU, despite outshooting the Mustangs 9-4 and allowing only one shot on goal, a controversial penalty. Seven days later, NU tied Central Michigan in double overtime even though they outshot the Chippewas 15-3. Scintillating offensive play, yet no nose for goal. No player on the team has more than one goal, a far cry from last year, when Lovera paced her team with eight by the end of the season.

There’s still time to right the ship. On Thursday, NU will search for its first conference victory of the season against Nebraska, another Big Ten team struggling this season. The Cornhuskers’ stats look similar to the Cats — both teams scored only six goals this season and surrendered 13.

Nebraska’s top goal scorers forward Dakota Chan and defender Sinclaire Miramontez have scored two apiece. Their goalkeeper, Aubrei Corder, started all nine games she’s played, stopping 68 percent of the 83 shots she’s faced.

For NU to come out on top, they’ll need the highly-touted young players to heat up. Freshman forward Paige Miller scored 33 goals in her high school career and fellow rookie midfielder Rowan Lapi found the back of the net fifteen times in her freshman year of high school alone.

The Cats relied heavily on their freshmen, as midfielder Aurea Martin’s goal against William and Mary made the difference in NU’s first win of the season. Players like Martin, Lapi and Miller, along with freshman forward Layne Thompson, freshman defender Marianna Annest and others, could have an impact on the direction of the Cats’ season.

In the meantime, they’ll lace up their cleats and soldier onto the pitch looking for goals and wins. That’s what good teams do. This is a good team.

Now prove it.

Greg Svirnovskiy is a Medill sophomore. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.