Women’s Soccer: Northwestern welcomes nine newcomers in a season like no other


Courtesy of Ingrid Falls

First-years Nicole Doucette and Ingrid Falls hustle and run through practice drills. The women’s soccer freshmen moved to campus in late July.

Lawrence Price, Reporter

Women’s Soccer

Northwestern’s women’s soccer team must wait until the spring to step back on the pitch, but the Wildcats were still able to welcome nine new additions to the team this fall.

The newcomers putting on the purple and white include Josie Aulicino, Meg Boade, Elyse DeSchryver, Nicole Doucette, Ingrid Falls, Ella Hase, Bridget Mitchell and Sydney Panek. University of Arizona transfer Hallie Pearson joins NU with two remaining years of eligibility.

The eight freshmen moved onto campus July 27 and formed a COVID-19 isolation pod together before they could join the rest of the team.

“In the beginning, it was awkward between all of us, but we’re actually really close now,” Doucette said.

As the freshmen texted in group chats, planned dinners and walked two miles to Evanston Township High School for skill work together, Doucette said their team chemistry strengthened, and they became closer on and off the field.

Because she feels connected to her teammates on a personal level, Doucette said she expects the team will play well together when games start up in the spring.

A few of the freshmen were familiar with each other before they moved to campus. Doucette and three other first-years are Illinois natives — two of them, Falls and Mitchell, have been Doucette’s teammates for over a decade.

“Over the years, we’ve all developed such a special bond together just playing with each other. I can’t really imagine it being any other way,” Falls said. “I’m really excited to go through this with them.”

Although Mitchell has a knee injury, she is happy to have a taste of home on the Cats’ campus.

“I am really excited to get on the field and play with my teammates,” Mitchell said, “because I feel like that brings us closer than anything else.”

Practicing five days a week to continue preparing for the postponed season, the Cats are working not only on their physical strength, but also their mental fortitude.

The players have started a program called Big Cats and Little Cats, in which an older player mentors a newcomer to check in on their well-being and fitness every week.

“It was comforting to know someone was there, because obviously, things were not so great back in March,” Mitchell said. “Even besides the Big Cats, I think that the older girls really care and they know that it is hard for us coming into this.”

The returning players and newcomers alike share a goal of finishing their season at the top of the Big Ten. Doucette said she believes the restrictions around COVID-19 will narrow NU’s focus this season.

“Going into that knowing we could be Big Ten champs is something that’s really driving us forward,” Doucette said. “I think that is the end goal in sight — to get to be Big Ten champs and then ultimately get into the NCAA Tournament.”

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