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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Women’s Soccer: Northwestern’s scoreless streak stretches to three games in 0-0 draw with Illinois

Daily file photo by Micah Sandy
Freshman forward Megan Norkett. Norkett played 78 minutes in Northwestern’s 0-0 draw with Illinois on Thursday.

Northwestern had a bevy of chances to score against Illinois, but for the third consecutive game, the Wildcats were unable to find a tally as Thursday’s affair ended in a 0-0 draw. 

Entering the rivalry matchup, NU (7-2-3, 1-2-1 Big Ten) had not been shutout in consecutive Big Ten games since suffering a string of four scoreless defeats at the end of the 2021 season. 

Coming off back-to-back defeats in Big Ten play, coach Michael Moynihan made a shift in the team’s defensive structure ahead of the clash with the Fighting Illini (5-3-3, 1-1-2). 

After employing a three-center-back approach for most of the season, the ‘Cats dropped into a back four against Illinois. Sophomore defender Brooke Miller earned the starting nod at left-back, while the team’s defensive mainstays — graduate student Danika Austin, junior Emma Phillips and senior Nicole Doucette — filled in the other three spots. 

“We’ve been struggling to score and, as funny as it sounds, we felt that would help us from an attacking perspective,” Moynihan said. “By playing with four in the back, it frees up (our wingers) to be more attacking minded … and shored things up a little bit defensively.”

Moynihan’s tactical alteration proved impactful in stifling the Fighting Illini’s wing-backs and forwards. Illinois managed just five shots in the contest, putting only three of those on target. Sophomore goalkeeper Reiley Fitzpatrick was alert to all three shots, notching her sixth clean sheet of the season.

NU dominated possession for much of the game, continually threatening the Illinois backline throughout all 90 minutes. But the hosts’ repeated forays into the final third were to no avail. 

Despite outshooting the Fighting Illini 18-5, the ‘Cats put just four shots on frame, unable to find the breakthrough against their in-state rivals. 

Moynihan maintains that NU has been the more dominant team in its three most recent games. He said the ‘Cats have “created more than enough chances to win very comfortably.” Still, NU has been unable to find that elusive goal over the past week and a half of action.

“We’re searching,” Moynihan said. “I wish I could (pinpoint an answer) because then I’d know what to fix.”

The ‘Cats now turn their attention to a date with Nebraska on Sunday. The Cornhuskers enter the game with a nearly identical record and conference standing to NU following a 2-2 draw with Rutgers.

As the ‘Cats continue to search for an answer to their attacking struggles, Moynihan is open to all options as Big Ten play continues. 

“We’re playing well, we’re dominating against teams and moving the ball really well,” Moynihan said. “It’s just the final third, and we’ve got to find an answer there. I don’t know if it’s sitting on our bench somewhere and waiting for a chance, but we’re getting to the point where we’re creating the chances, we just got to convert.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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