Women’s Soccer: Rapid Recap: UCLA 2, Northwestern 0


Claudia Arriaga/The Daily Northwestern

Senior midfielder Lily Gilbertson dribbles the ball. Gilbertson was one of two Cats to log a shot on goal Sunday.

Lucas Kim, Reporter

Northwestern’s historic season has come to an end. 

The fourth-seed Cats (16-5-2, 7-2-1 Big Ten) fell to first-seed UCLA (19-2-1) in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament 2-0 on Sunday.

The contest swiftly got off to a rough start for NU as the Bruins scored a goal on their first shot of the game only five minutes in. Receiving a through ball on the right side of the box, UCLA graduate defender Madelyn Desiano played a ball to the left side of the goal toward junior forward Reilyn Turner. 

Turner, who was fighting with junior defender Nicole Doucette for position, appeared to hit the ball into the net to take the lead. The goal, however, was later awarded to Desiano postgame as Doucette was actually the one to touch the ball, not Turner.

The rest of the first half was relatively even, as the Cats ended with three shots, two of which were on goal, compared to the Bruins’ five, which included three on goal.

The second half started with two straight corners and four shots for UCLA through the first ten minutes, though none of them resulted in a score. 

The Bruins secured their second goal in the 64th minute after freshman midfielder Sofia Cook’s through ball found sophomore defender Quincy McMahon, who sidestepped graduate keeper Mia Raben and snuck it into the net. 

By the final whistle, NU was unable to rebound and UCLA advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in three years. 

Here are three takeaways from the Cats’ Sweet Sixteen loss to UCLA.

Facing against one of the nation’s best

Going in Sunday’s contest, NU knew it was up for its toughest matchup of the year. 

The Bruins entered the NCAA Tournament as a one seed, having spent nine consecutive weeks this season ranked No. 1 nationally. 

History was not on the Cats’ side either. The last time the two teams played was in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament when the Bruins won 1-0 in overtime.

Injuries and fatigue come into play

One of the biggest storylines of the game was injury. Playing in its second game in three days, NU had very little time to rest, which is particularly crucial for a squad that rarely goes deep into its bench during games.

First, senior midfielder Rowan Lapi exited the game with an injury in the 22nd minute, prompting Josie Aulicino to move from attacking to defensive midfielder. 

In an attempt to buttress the depleted defense, coach Michael Moynihan deployed Second Team All-Big Ten selection and sophomore defender Emma Phillips who had missed the last two matches with a leg injury. It was clear, however, that Phillips was not back to 100% as she left the game limping five minutes later. 

Halfway through the second half, junior midfielder Meg Boade exited the game with a leg injury and wrist injury as she was both limping and holding her wrist after landing on it. Though Boade later returned later in the match, it was only for nine minutes.

Lack of offensive spark in second half

After a decent first half offensively, NU failed to get a shot on goal or corner kick in the second half. This lack of output was partly due to Aulicino’s absence in the attacking half. 

With her position change, the Cats were forced to run their offense through someone other than Aulicino, who leads the team in both goals and assists this season. The injury to Boade didn’t help either.

Though some scoring opportunities were generated through well-placed crosses and service balls, NU was not able to capitalize.

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Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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