Yellow cards, timely steals, clutch goals, inclement weather—Northwestern’s match against No. 10 Penn State had it all, and the No. 6 Wildcats (7-3, 2-1 ALC) fought through it to grab a 5-4 victory on the road.
NU started April out on a good note after going 3-3 in March, though they did end month with two straight victories, including a win over No. 1 North Carolina. This March was their worst month since March of the 2002-2003 season, when they lost three straight in an eight-loss season.
Despite playing a man down because of a yellow card, the Nittany Lions (7-4, 2-1 ALC) nearly came back to tie the game in the final minute. Senior Lauren Purvis knocked the ball out of the stick of NU’s Blake McHugh and picked up the loose ball, successfully passing it upfield back into Penn State offensive zone.
With 35 seconds left, sophomore Madison Cyr cut to her right and lobbed the ball toward the net. But Bridget Bianco made her eighth save of the night and the Cats ran out the clock for the close victory, handed the Nittany Lions their first conference loss of the season.
Senior Kat DeRonda led NU with three goals, two of them in the second half to keep Penn State at least one goal down the whole period.
Sophomore duo Lauren Murray and Kaleigh Craig kicked off the scoring with a goal each in the first 10 minutes to give the Cats the early 2-0 lead.
The teams alternated goals for the rest of the match, with DeRonda tallying the final three scores for NU.
The victory marked the 18th straight win for NU over Penn State. The Cats’ last loss to the Nittany Lions was in 2003, Kelly Amonte Hiller’s second year as head coach, before the team won any of its seven National Championships.
The Cats hit the road for the last time this regular season, taking on non-conference opponent No. 12 Penn (6-2) on Sunday. NU holds a seven-game winning streak over the Quakers and has won by an average of four goals over that time. The Cats are looking for their fourth straight win which would be their longest winning streak of the season.