Women’s Soccer: Northwestern ties Maryland on the road, seeks retribution against the Fighting Illini Thursday


Daily file photo by Kelsey Carroll

Sophomore midfielder Ingrid Falls looks to pass the ball to a teammate. Northwestern faces Illinois Thursday at Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium.

Skye Swann, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Soccer

Northwestern women’s soccer left College Park, Md. dissatisfied, tying Maryland 1-1 in their first game at Ludwig Field since 2018.

“We’re a bit frustrated that we didn’t win,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “We’re disappointed in the goal we gave up, but given the circumstances it was a good sign for our team to fight back.”

Following an impressive win in Happy Valley, the Wildcats (5-4-1, 1-1-1 Big Ten) hoped to continue their success with an additional road win over the Terrapins. However, NU faced a tough competitor, battling the entire game just to get on the scoreboard.

Senior midfielder Francesca Docters scored the lone goal for the team in the 90th minute, tying the game right before the end of regulation. The goal saved the Cats from another conference loss early in the season.

Outshot by Maryland 12-11, NU held its own against the Terps despite a slow start. With both teams battling for possession, the duel relied heavily on defensive strategy. Moynihan said the Cats encountered a lot of pressure from Maryland midfielders, making it difficult to keep the ball on their offensive end.

“The challenge with Maryland is they have athletic forwards who stretch the game out and play pretty direct,” Moynihan said. “(Maryland) can be a bit of a handful and it was one of those situations we just didn’t handle it well.”

By halftime, both teams struggled with shooting — the score remained at zero for a full 45 minutes. Still, Maryland came out swinging in the second half, scoring a goal seven minutes into the period.

From there, NU scrambled to tie the score, outshooting the Terrapins in the second half 5-4 to grab a goal. When it appeared Maryland was finalizing its win, Docters had an opening, kicking the ball straight to the back of the net.

“I’m so proud of my teammates for just keeping on and believing in ourselves to get that last cross off,” Docters said. “It gives me a chance to be composed in the moment.”

Although Moynihan and Docters were disappointed with the final result of a 1-1 tie, both felt optimistic to return to Evanston for an in-state rivalry game against Illinois Thursday.

The stakes of Thursday’s game are high for the Cats, especially after NU suffered a nail biting loss to the Fighting Illini last season on Senior Day. Moynihan said he’s excited to get back to Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium for a win over Illinois.

Additionally, Moynihan recalled NU’s shooting was mediocre the last time the two teams played. The Cats outshot their rivals 13-9 yet lacked accuracy, giving the Fighting Illini multiple opportunities to exploit their defense. Docters seconded the sentiment, saying the loss last season hit the team hard. A senior herself, she said the rematch is a way to honor the graduated seniors from last season and put the team back in the win column.

NU will have the upper hand for Thursday’s matchup with its home field advantage, a boost they haven’t enjoyed for more than two weeks. Docters said film review and shooting are the focal points of the team’s practices to prepare for Illinois. A Cats’ win will send a message to the Big Ten conference that the team is not going anywhere.

“We definitely want to win after (Illinois) beat us last year,” Docters said. “We’re not happy with that so we want to get another win this week.”

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