Northwestern senior midfielder Kylie Fisher drives the ball during a match against Maryland. During the first week of March, Northwestern played two tough games against Minnesota and Ohio State, and showed great flash in both matchups. Photo by Brandi Simpson / North by Northwestern

Opening up the week on Thursday, Northwestern Women’s Soccer (3-2 B1G) team headed to Minnesota (2-1-2 B1G) and was certainly in for a thriller against one of the upstart squads in the conference. In an unfortunate ending, however, the Wildcats lost 2-1 in an overtime performance.

For the majority of the first half, the ’Cats were struggling on both teams to get any pure opportunities, and it seemed as though both teams were going to enter the half-tied 0-0, but sophomore midfielder Rowan Lapi had other plans. With a one-touch brilliant shot across the face of the goal, Lapi curled in an absolute beauty to put the ’Cats up 1-0 entering halftime. A beautiful end to the first half off of a perfectly executed set-piece opportunity.

Unfortunately, that one goal would not be enough to push the Wildcats to victory. The Gophers were knocking on the door the whole second half and had a game-total of 20 shots on goal. While Northwestern’s stingy defensive line stopped 15 that didn’t reach the goal, the Gophers were able to convert two of the five shots that hit the frame into goals. One of those included the game-winner by Minnesota's sophomore forward Sadie Harper.

While a tough loss, the ’Cats headed to Iowa (0-4-1 B1G) just days later. On a crisp Sunday morning, the Wildcats arrived in Iowa City for a big performance in which they desperately needed to earn a victory, or else they would fall below .500 on the season. Fortunately, the Wildcats got just what they needed: a strong, gritty, 2-0 win over Iowa.

At the offset of the game, it seemed as though Northwestern was feeling quite confident, possessing the ball beautifully, creating opportunities and anchoring a strong defense. It was all for naught, however, as the ’Cats were unable to convert on these setups and went into the first half tied with the Hawkeyes, 0-0.

While opening the second half of the game, in the 53rd minute, junior forward Olivia Stone netted her second goal on the season to put the Wildcats up 1-0. The goal came on a brilliant cross in from first-year midfielder Josie Aulicino and finished off a rapid counter for the 'Cats.

Around 10 minutes later, we saw an absolutely dominant goal by senior midfielder Regan Steigleder. After taking a long look at the free-kick opportunity with a strong wall in front of her, Steigleder had to get creative. She curled the ball around the wall and slotted the goal just past the keeper on the near post.

After a long week of tough play and close margins, Northwestern ended with a loss and a win, bringing their record to 3-2 on the season. Despite two losses on the record, their upside potential is obvious, and we look forward to what the rest of the season will bring.

Grit and grind all the way to the end. Photo by Brandi Simpson / North by Northwestern