The dream season has ended. After winning a Big Ten title and equaling Northwestern’s best NCAA Tournament result since 1998, Northwestern women’s soccer lost 1-0 to No. 3 seed Duke in Durham.
The key moment of the game proved to be Ella Stevens’ goal in the 34th minute. Once Northwestern went down a goal, the team had a tough time generating scoring opportunities on the road against a solid Duke team. Northwestern’s defense would not concede again, but the damage was already done.
Both teams cancelled each other out for the first 30 minutes, with Northwestern playing its usual brand of tough defense. However, Northwestern’s lack of offensive cohesiveness allowed Duke to dominate possession as the half wore on. The Wildcats were able to absorb the pressure for a while, but a defensive mix-up cost them dearly in the 34th minute.
A Duke cross into the box bounced around and found the feet of Duke’s Imani Dorsey. Her shot was blocked by Clem but the rebound fell to Ella Stevens, who tapped the ball in for Duke’s first goal. The goal was only the seventh that Northwestern had conceded in 2016, but it proved to be decisive. The remainder of the first half was uneventful as Duke continued to hold possession.
Northwestern’s offensive issues had been a problem all season, and the team could not spring Kassidy Gorman or Maddy Lucas for a decent attempt on goal in the second half. Duke’s defense held firm and Duke’s goalkeeper did not make her first save until there were 10 minutes remaining. Duke was able to dominate the game from the back line and midfield after the goal, and in a way, outplayed Northwestern at its own game.
Northwestern head coach Michael Moynihan have much to be proud of, however, as they end the year with one of the most successful teams in program history.