Women’s Soccer: Amid season-long dry spell, Northwestern heads into weekend slate looking for goals


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Regan Steigleder juggles the ball. The junior has one goal and one assist on the season, having started all 12 games.

Greg Svirnovskiy, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Soccer

After starting last weekend with a draw against Purdue at Martin Stadium and finishing with a loss to Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey, Northwestern is back in action Friday, set to face off with Michigan State.

It’s been a season-long offensive dry spell for the Cats (4-6-2, 2-2-1 Big Ten), as they’ve scored just nine times, taking only 97 shots in the process. Coach Michael Moynihan said solving the team’s mentality woes has a lot to do with maturity.

“We’ve been talking a lot about mentality,” Moynihan said. “We have a lot of people who are eager and trying hard, but we’re also really young. Sometimes we lack composure and sometimes we lack the confidence in certain moments.”

In practice, they’re incorporating lessons learned from previous wins and losses, working on connecting better in the final third of the game and focusing on limiting their mistakes. They’ll be bolstered by a home crowd in the season’s final stretch, as NU will play four of its last six regular season games in Evanston.

Home-field advantage hasn’t proven itself just yet. The Cats have won one of five home games this season, drawing twice. Both of NU’s conference victories have come on the road, and the team has scored only three goals at home all year.

Still, sophomore goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood said fan support always helps to elevate the Cats’ play.

“We just keep thinking we have to protect our home field,” Wood said. “That’s always in our thoughts and our mindset. I think that’s gonna be an awesome environment just having our fans to support us.”

If Wood is right, the homestand could not have come at a better time. All four of NU’s remaining home games are against Big Ten opponents, critical matchups to determine postseason seeding and tournament matchups. The contest against Michigan State will be a chance for the Cats’ to test their mettle against a team of national relevance.

But it won’t be easy. The Spartans have scored 23 goals this season, led by sharpshooter Gia Wahlberg, who has found the back of the net nine times — as many as the entire NU offense. Michigan has forced through 144 shots and are holding opponents to a .105 scoring percentage.

Wood said the key to a win and Northwestern’s season is talking to each other.

“It’s just about communication,” Wood said. “Knowing when to contain them, and just communicating with each other, knowing where each other are. We’ll be ready.”

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