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Northwestern women’s soccer advances to Big Ten Tournament semifinal on penalties

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After a scoreless regulation and overtime, Northwestern survived.

Tristan Jung

With the shootout tied at three apiece, it was up to Marisa Viggiano to keep Northwestern’s dream season alive. Her strike whistled past Nebraska’s goalkeeper, sending the Big Ten title-winning Wildcats to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament after a tense standoff with Nebraska in Evanston.

Northwestern and Nebraska played out a scoreless draw earlier in the season, and the tune did not change in their second meeting. Both teams struggled to find rhythm and good scoring opportunities as the defenses dominated most of the game.

“A lot of times in our transition into offense we weren’t as crisp or as clean as we needed to be to take some of the pressure off our defense. They [Nebraska] didn’t really threaten a whole lot so I was very pleased with limiting the number of chances they had,” Northwestern’s head coach Michael Moynihan said.

Nebraska’s best scoring opportunity came in the 69th minute, but Lauren Clem made a diving stop to her left to stave off a crucial goal. Northwestern’s chance of the game came in the first minute of overtime, as a Kim Jerantowski header sailed just past the crossbar. However, both teams cancelled each other out for the rest of the game, forcing a penalty shootout with the score deadlocked at 0-0 after 100 minutes.

Nebraska’s first penalty bounced off the upright and careened out of the goal, but the referees decided to allow the goal, despite replay later confirming the ball hadn’t crossed the line. Lauren Clem thought it was out, but she couldn’t do anything about the call.

“You could see a spot on the turf...it would’ve been nice for it to be out but it is what it is,” she said after the game.

Regardless, Maddy Lucas leveled the scoring, and the referee’s mistake would not come back to haunt the Wildcats. Lauren Clem, the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year, saved a Nebraska penalty that enabled Northwestern to go up 3-2. Nebraska then missed again, giving Northwestern a shot for the win.

However, the drama wasn’t over, as Kayla Sharples’ potential game-winning penalty was saved by Nebraska’s Aubrei Corder. At 3-3, it came down to Maggie Viggiano, and she slotted home the deciding penalty with strong shot to the goalkeeper’s left.

Northwestern women’s soccer will travel to Minnesota to face Rutgers in the semifinal. Rutgers handed the Wildcats their only loss of the season and they will provide a big test after knocking off Penn State, the No. 2 seed, on the road.