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Despite setback, Northwestern Women’s Soccer is off to a hot start

The Wildcats, 6-1-2 to begin the season, are picking up weekly honors left and right.

If you were one of many Wildcat fans who felt personally victimized by Saturday’s football loss, here’s some news to brighten your day:

Northwestern’s women’s soccer team has started the season in much better shape.

Prior to this weekend, the squad ranked #12 in the nation. After winning six games and drawing two, the ‘Cats were topped by Minnesota during Sunday’s road contest for their only loss of the season thus far.

The students aren’t even at school yet, and the team has already secured significant awards. In just four weeks, Northwestern has reeled in four weekly honors for four different players. This is the first season in history that the team has accomplished that feat, and it’s only September.

After the opening weekend of the season, senior Kayla Sharples won Defensive Player of the Week, and freshman Mackenzie Wood won Goalkeeper of the Week and Co-Freshman on the Week after the week after Sharples.

The pair’s recognition has certainly been well deserved, as the ‘Cats have shut out Wake Forest, Iowa State, West Virginia, Loyola Marymount, Bowling Green and Missouri to catapult themselves to their impressive record. Wood had 10 saves against West Virginia alone and has a .882 save percentage. The young powerhouse has faced 90 shots and only allowed four goals so far this season.

On September 1, the next two Wildcats received their honors. Senior Brenna Lovera and freshman Julietta Thron were named Big Ten Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week respectively. Lovera leads the team with four goals, including two game winners. She also has the most assists on the team and has totaled 15 career goals, making her two shy of the top-ten list all-time in program history. The two game winners were the most recent in Lovera’s collection of 10 career game-winning goals, which is now a program record.

The offense has come close to matching the team’s defensive success, scoring 10 goals already this season, while the team has allowed just four total in the first nine games.

Unfortunately, the team received just one point, from a Friday tie with Wisconsin, out of their opening two Big Ten matchups this weekend. With the team starting slowly in conference play, Thursday’s home tilt with ranked Penn State, the team that topped them last year for the Big Ten Tournament Championship, will be key to turning things around. But with their hot start, the Wildcats have given themselves a bit of breathing room in the NCAA Tournament discussion.

Season’s ending with tournament berths are nothing new to the women’s soccer team, as they topped off a successful 2017 campaign with their second consecutive trip to the Round of 32, ultimately falling to the no. 2 seed UCLA. The ‘Cats will look to further improve on last year’s solid 12-8-3 record this season, and are on track to do just that with a successful finish to Big Ten play.