22 Oct Northwestern women’s Soccer to face Ohio State in Evanston on Oct. 24
Northwestern will square off against Ohio State at Martin Stadium on Sunday in a matchup that could make or break the Wildcats’ postseason hopes.
NU (7-8-1, 3-5-1 Big Ten) looks to rebound against the Buckeyes (9-7-2, 4-4-2) following a string of defeats. The Cats won their first five Big Ten games, but now face a four-game losing streak, with all of the contests decided by just one goal. Most recently, NU dropped its Thursday match against Purdue 1-0 and only attempted four shots on goal. In these matches, the Cats managed just 4.1 shots per game — a significant drop from their season average of 8.8.
Sunday’s battle carries major implications for NU’s chance at a Big Ten tournament berth. The Cats currently sit 11th out of 14 teams in the conference standings, and will need at least one win this week to reach postseason play since the conference tournament only takes the top eight teams.
NU will likely rely on graduate student midfielder Regan Steigleder and sophomore midfielder Josie Aulicino to bolster their offense. The Cats have outscored their opponents 19-18 this season, led by Aulicino with six goals and Steigleder with three goals.
However, through 15 games, NU has been outshot 11.1 shots per match to 9.1 by its opponents. Despite the difference, the Cats have managed to outscore their opponents by scoring on 13.9% of their attempts. This efficiency poses danger to Ohio State, which has the worst save percentage in the Big Ten.
NU’s defense will also need to step up to defeat the Buckeyes. Senior goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood ranks second in the Big Ten with 72 saves. Junior defender Danika Austin and senior defender Hallie Pearson who have made 15 and 13 starts this season, respectively, will assist Wood in stopping the Buckeyes.
Ohio State, currently 10th in the Big Ten, will also play with its season on the line. After a 0-0 draw against Wisconsin on Wednesday night, the Buckeyes cannot make the Big Ten tournament without a victory.
With a positive outcome on Sunday, NU will look to postseason play which will kick off on Oct. 31. The Cats’ last trip to the tournament came in 2017, when they fell to Penn State in the final.
Current weather forecasts indicate difficult conditions for Sunday’s game, with a high chance of precipitation and winds of up to 25 miles per hour in Evanston on Sunday afternoon. To make the tournament, the Cats will not only have to beat their opponent, but the weather conditions, too.
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