Women’s Soccer: Northwestern to face Purdue in first round of Big Ten Regional Weekend


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Junior forward Olivia Stone gains control of the ball. Stone has scored three goals this season.

Skye Swann, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Soccer

Northwestern will kick off its postseason on Thursday at the Big Ten Regional Weekend. As the fourth seed, the Wildcats (5-6) will take on Purdue (4-5-2), the fifth seed, in their first game back since a disappointing loss to in-state rival Illinois on Senior Day.

NU struggled to score the entire second half of that contest, despite taking ten shots on goal. However, coach Michael Moynihan said he was impressed with the way the Cats’ “dictated large portions of the game” against Illinois and held the lead until the final twenty minutes.

Thursday’s clash in Madison, Wis. will be NU’s first match against the Boilermakers since a 1-0 loss in West Lafayette on Mar. 13. Even though the Cats’ shot accuracy is only 11.5 percent, they have offensive threats in junior forward Olivia Stone and sophomore midfield Aurea Martin, who both have three goals apiece this season.

Stone said NU’s offensive success comes from the team’s ability to “hold the ball” and build “triangles” around their opponents’ midfield, which creates turnovers.

To slow a Purdue offense that averages a subpar shot accuracy of six percent, NU will look to players such as sophomore defender Danika Austin, who played a career-high 97 minutes in an overtime loss to Minnesota. Moynihan said the Jenison, Mich. native “makes great decisions” on the field and is “tough as nails.”

Aside from Austin, one of the Cats’ strongest defensive players is junior goalie Mackenzie Wood. Wood, who has 27 saves this season, saved four shots and prevented all five corner kicks from hitting the net in NU’s last matchup against the Boilermakers.

The main challenge the Cats will face from Purdue is high defensive pressure from junior goalkeeper Marisa Bova, who racked up 33 saves this season, and saved the two shots taken by the Cats on Mar. 13.

With a win over Purdue, NU would advance to the second round of the regional to face Wisconsin. To get there, Moynihan said the goal for his team is to “develop the right mentality and confidence” during Thursday’s matchup.

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