After a successful week in which graduate midfielder Regan Steigleder collected co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors, Northwestern women’s soccer (7-5-1, 3-2-1 B1G) were hungry for another win on Friday night. Unfortunately, Indiana (9-2-3, 3-1-2 B1G) had other plans in mind, as the Wildcats were unable to overcome a 1-0 halftime deficit against the Hoosiers, falling at home for the first time this season.
The usual suspects were at play for Northwestern. Steigleder was aggressive on offense, flying around the field trying to make plays and take shots. Junior midfielder Rowan Lapi was also out for blood, hawking down Hoosiers all night long on defense and setting up good offensive looks with her passing.
Despite Steigleder and Lapi’s efforts, the Wildcats just couldn’t get past the Indiana first-year keeper Jamie Gerstenberg as she recorded her Big Ten-leading eighth shutout of the season.
Within the first five minutes of the game, the Wildcats drove into Indiana territory on three occasions, and both teams’ goalies were active early and often. The game turned into a track meet on the field, making for a fast-paced contest that tested the defenses. Northwestern senior goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood collected four saves in the game, and Lapi came up big with several tackles to stop Indiana’s momentum.
With two minutes left in the first half, Indiana’s Megan Wampler, a junior midfielder, snuck in a header over Wood that gave the Hoosiers the 1-0 lead, thanks to a long ball from senior defender Oliwia Wos.
Indiana never relinquished control of the game, with Gerstenberg recording a diving save with three minutes left in the match, effectively shutting the door on Northwestern’s hopes for the night.
The Wildcats played with energy but were simply unable to convert that to points. Indiana outshot Northwestern 10 shots to five, and the ’Cats posted their second worst offensive outing statistically all year. They moved the ball well but were still unable to generate offense in opposing territory, being shut out for just the second time this year.
It should be noted, however, that both shutouts this season came at the hands of two teams known for their defense: North Carolina, who’s currently ranked No. 5 in the NCAA, and Indiana, who leads the Big Ten in both shutouts (nine) and goals allowed on average (0.35). If Northwestern can combine Friday’s liveliness with their previous offensive success, they could be a very dangerous team as the regular season begins to draw to a close. They’ll look to bounce back with a road date at Wisconsin (7-3-4, 2-2-2 B1G) on Thursday.
Here’s hoping they’ll finally get their fill.