Northwestern women’s soccer finishes season with Ohio State loss

Northwestern women’s soccer finishes season with Ohio State loss

On a cold, wet afternoon at Martin Stadium, Northwestern ended its season Sunday with a loss as dreary as the weather.

The Wildcats (7-9-1, 3-6-1 Big Ten) fell to Ohio State (9-7-2, 4-4-2 Big Ten) 1-2 in the rainy match, marking the team’s fifth consecutive loss. The defeat eliminated the Cats from Big Ten tournament qualification, which takes the conference’s top eight teams.

Before kickoff, 433 attendees celebrated NU’s senior day, acknowledging 12 Cats’ final appearance in purple and white. Notable seniors include graduate student midfielder Regan Steigleder and goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood, who finished second in Big Ten saves this season. 

Coach Mike Moynihan viewed the ceremony as a “special environment” that contributed to the team’s excitement for Sunday’s game. 

Although the Cats’ season ended on a sour note, coach Moynihan noted the team enjoyed good games and a special connection throughout the season. 

Neither team created substantial chances in the first period, as NU registered the only shot on goal in the 22nd minute.

The Buckeyes picked up the pace after the break, progressing the ball into the Cats’ half through a long sideline pass to forward Kayla Fischer. She vaulted Ohio State into the lead with a one-on-one goal in the 55th minute. 

Moynihan cited Fischer’s speed and incisive runs as a key component to the Buckeyes’ success. 

“(Fischer) is a special player,” Moynihan said. “She’s one of the top players in the Big Ten.”

In the final quarter, junior defender Danika Austin committed a foul in the defending box, resulting in an Ohio State penalty shot. The Buckeyes capitalized on the attempt, giving them a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes left to play.

The Cats gained some momentum late in the second half when Fischer received a red card for an errant elbow to the head of sophomore forward Ella Hase. Following the ejection, Hase left the game and did not return.

NU adopted more aggressive tactics after the pause in play, shifting a midfielder to the attack and using just three defenders. This approach provided the team with an offensive surge, creating five shots in the final 15 minutes.

Graduate midfielder Regan Steigleder put one of these shots in the back of the net in the 89th minute, scoring NU’s first and only goal of the game. Shrinking the deficit to one, Steigleder’s score ended the team’s four-game goal drought, the team’s longest of the season.

In an effort to score one more goal to keep their season alive, the Cats attempted a final push down the field. But a turnover and subsequent final whistle drew an end to both the game and the season.

The loss marked NU’s third consecutive full season failing to qualify for the Big Ten tournament. During this period, the Cats have only won 15 out of 43 conference games. 

Despite losing so many seniors, the team returns five of its seven leading minute getters. NCAA rules stipulate that teams cannot practice for a week after their final game, according to Moynihan. But the team may take even more time off.

“This is going to be the first offseason we’ve had in a long time,” Moynihan said. “Right now, we’re kind of just reflecting to recharge our batteries.”

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