Women’s Soccer: Fourth-seeded Northwestern comfortably defeats SIUE 3-0 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament


Claudia Arriaga/The Daily Northwestern

Junior midfielder Meg Boade dribbles the ball. Boade, NU’s only First Team All-Big Ten selection, scored her seventh goal of the season Saturday.

Lucas Kim, Reporter

Women’s Soccer

When a team allows only one shot total in a match, that’s impressive on its own. Considering Northwestern did that while firing 24 shots – and three goals – of its own, there wasn’t much stopping the Wildcats on Saturday.

Fourth-seeded NU (15-4-2, 7-2-1 Big Ten) handily defeated SIU-Edwardsville (8-6-4) 3-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, allowing a season-low one shot in a game.

The Wildcats entered Saturday’s match having already beaten SIUE in late August with a 5-0 win, their largest margin of victory this year.

Despite the comfortable victory in the early season, NU did not dwell on its previous result.

“We pointed out an example of another team that won 7-0 against a team the last game of the season, and met them again in the NCAA Tournament and lost in penalty kicks,” coach Michael Moynihan said. “We talked a lot pre-game about how we have to be clinical, focused and just keep going.”

Fortunately for the Cats, focus did not seem to be an issue. NU tallied 12 shots in the first half, with seven coming from junior midfielder Josie Aulicino. In the ninth minute, Aulicino hit a rocket of a shot that seemed destined to put the Cats ahead, but it ricocheted off the crossbar.

After several other missed opportunities, the Cats finally converted on a 37th minute goal from junior midfielder Meg Boade, the team’s eighth shot of the game. Receiving a through ball on the left side of the box from junior forward Ella Hase, Boade sidestepped a defender and snuck the ball past the keeper to put NU on the board.

“Once our first goal came in the first half, then it was like, ‘Okay this is how we can score. This is how we gotta do it,’” Aulicino said. “Then it just kept going.”

Only eight minutes later, Aulicino possessed the ball well outside of the box –– the same spot where she had hit the top woodwork –– and notched another banger that, this time, found the back of the net.

The second half was more of the same: another 12 shots from the Cats as SIUE failed to pull off one.

The game’s final goal came off an Aulicino free kick, which was deflected directly toward junior midfielder Ingrid Falls and subsequently hit into the top left corner of the net.

Overall, NU was able to accumulate scoring chance after chance due to a stellar defensive showing, made all the more impressive with the absence of Second Team All-Big Ten selection Emma Phillips. Phillips left the Cats’ Big Ten semifinal loss against Penn State earlier this month with a leg injury and was unavailable for Saturday’s match.

As a result, senior Danika Austin shifted from left back to center back, and Hase shifted from left midfielder to left back –– a position she played through her sophomore season. Falls filled the vacancy at left midfielder to make her first start of the season.

In addition to the lineup change, nearly below freezing conditions marked a stark contrast from a week of practicing in warm weather. But, for the team, that didn’t matter.

“It didn’t even feel like it was cold,” Boade said. “We were just like, ‘We’re in the NCAA Tournament.’ None of us have been here before. It didn’t matter if it was snowing or raining or anything.” 

With the win, NU will move on to face Vanderbilt in the second round on Friday at University of California, Los Angeles. The Commodores upset fifth seed Clemson to advance, and the winner of Friday’s match will play the winner of University of Central Florida and first seed UCLA.

Moynihan credited the SEC for its athleticism, saying Vanderbilt will be “no exception.” 

“They’ve had a lot of success over the last few years, and it’s an experienced team that’ll put up a good fight,” Moynihan said. “But we’re pretty confident in what we have and what we bring to the table.”

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