Women’s Soccer: Northwestern suffers third consecutive shutout defeat in Minnesota loss


Carly Schulman/Daily Senior Staffer

The Minnesota players celebrate during their win over Northwestern Sunday. The Cats have lost three straight contests.

Peter Ryan, Reporter

Northwestern suffered a 1-0 loss Sunday against Minnesota, marking its third consecutive shutout defeat.

The Wildcats’ (7-7-1, 3-4-1 Big Ten) defeat to Minnesota (8-4-3, 4-4-0 Big Ten) at Martin Stadium was the team’s second of the week, continuing a streak of attacking woes. 

The Golden Gophers got off to a hot start early, taking two shots through the first 16 minutes of the match and scoring in the 21st minute.

NU appeared to score a tying goal later in the first half, but the shot was waved off due to a foul in the offensive half. Coach Michael Moynihan expressed frustration with the call, saying he was certain there was no foul after re-examining the footage.

The Cats took six shots on Sunday, including three on goal — a significant improvement from their Thursday loss to Wisconsin, when they registered just two shots in a 1-0 loss.

Despite the increased number of attempts, Moynihan said the shots and score didn’t truly measure NU’s success on Sunday.

“I don’t think six shots is justice to the number of good scoring opportunities,” Moynihan said. “I thought we looked significantly better today from an attacking standpoint.”

Graduate student midfielder Regan Steigleder said having a stronger defensive plan provided the Cats more offensive opportunities on Sunday, allowing the team to move “forward and get more numbers downfield.” 

Moynihan credited the team’s midfield for this defensive strength, saying that keeping two holding midfielders gave the team “balance” in center field.

Aside from the retracted goal, NU’s clearest chances to score developed in the game’s final 10 minutes. A 80th-minute corner kick resulted in a scramble in the Minnesota box, during which the Cats had opportunities to attack but were unable to record a shot on goal. In the 85th minute, senior forward Olivia Stone headed a shot just left of the net.

This increase in aggression came as the result of a tactical shift: during the last 15 minutes of the game, NU switched to two attacking midfielders — a change Moynihan said “maybe” should have been made earlier.

Steigleder agreed that a change in strategy might help combat the group’s struggle to find the back of the net.

“We need to be a lot more clinical in front,” Steigleder said. “We’re getting the crosses off, so we just need to be more clinical in the box.”

NU heads to West Lafayette, Ind. Thursday to play Purdue with its postseason hopes hanging in the balance. Purdue’s 4-3-3 approach and strong home record (7-1-1) could pose a challenge for the Cats.

With eighth-place Penn State sitting at 4-4-0 in Big Ten play, NU may need two wins this upcoming week to keep its season alive. The Big Ten Tournament takes the top eight teams in the conference, so if Penn State wins on Thursday at Michigan, the Cats, currently in 10th place, could need a win to stay in the hunt for that eighth spot.

Moynihan said he still believes NU can make the postseason, despite the Big Ten being “tough” and every game being a “battle.” With the season coming down to the wire, he expressed the importance of taking one game at a time.

In order to eke out a victory, Steigleder said the Cats will need to keep Sunday’s momentum going and work on their finishing.

Moynihan agreed with that sentiment, saying he hopes building on the little things will help the team to success. 

“As far as our play went, we didn’t get the result,” said Moynihan. “But I thought the play was significantly improved over Thursday and hopefully pushes us in the right direction.”

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