Women’s Soccer: NU ends 2021 season with loss to Wisconsin on penalty kicks


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Sophomore defender Danika Austin clears the ball. Austin was a key part of Northwestern’s defensive effort against Wisconsin.

Skye Swann, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Soccer

After defeating Purdue in the first round of the Big Ten Regional Weekend, Northwestern looked to overtake Wisconsin and clinch a semifinalist spot in the conference tournament.

However, the Wildcats fell just short. 

After two overtimes, the Wildcats (6-6-1, 5-6 Big Ten) fell 4-2 on penalty kicks to the Badgers (6-3-3, 6-3-3 Big Ten), bringing their 2021 season to an end.

“I’m really proud of them,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “They represented themselves and Northwestern really well. I think it bodes well for the future.”

At the start of the game, NU took control, firing two shots on goal within the first two minutes. According to Moynihan, the Cats’ midfielders were able to counter Wisconsin’s 4-2-4 formation, which led to their first goal of the game. 

In the 37th minute, sophomore midfielder Lily Gilbertson found open space and took a shot towards Badgers goalie Jordyn Bloomer. The ball sailed above Bloomer and into the top left post to put NU on the board, 1-0.

“We started to get a lot of chances in the first half and I think we were knocking at the door quite a few times,” Gilbertson said. “It was exciting to get one in, and the energy was definitely encouraging.”

The Cats’ defense also rose to the occasion. Sophomore defender Danika Austin cleared the ball, stopping Wisconsin’s offensive strikes, and the Badgers only talliedon one shot on goal over 45 minutes. Meanwhile, NU took nine.

“(The backline) is just tough — really, really tough,” Moynihan said. “They’ve been rocks all year, and individually, they have a great warrior mentality.”

Even though NU had multiple shots on goal at the beginning of the second half, Wisconsin quickly found the back of the net. In the 57th minute, Badger forward Cameron Murtha sent a shot past junior goalie Mackenzie Wood to tie the game at one.

The teams finished the half with six shots each. However, none got past the goalkeepers, keeping the score 1-1. NU had one last chance to take the lead in regulation on a corner kick with ten seconds remaining, but the Badgers stopped it to send the game to overtime. 

Although the Cats outshot Wisconsin 2-0 over ten minutes, the Badgers made a last-minute attempt to score the ball. However, Austin came up with a big steal stopping Murtha’s run down the field to force a second overtime. Wood also saved a shot straight down the center from Badgers midfielder Lauren Rice to send the game to penalty kicks. 

Although senior midfielder Regan Steigleder nailed the Cats’ first penalty shot, the momentum shifted in Wisconsin’s favor as Wood was unable to block all four of the Badgers’ penalty kicks. Following a miss from junior midfielder Chloe McGhee, Wisconsin officially won, securing a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. 

Despite the defeat, Austin is optimistic about the future of her team. 

“Our performance today was really motivating,” Austin said. “It gives us hope for next season knowing we were dominating and we had the shots. Next season is gonna be ours if we take it.”

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Twitter: @sswann301

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