Both Northwestern soccer teams saw their seasons end this past week as they fell short of any post-season hardware in their respective conference tournaments in 2021.
The women’s team began their tournament run on a high, closing out Purdue 1-0 thanks to a penalty kick scored by senior Regan Steigleder and an impressive shutout from the NU defense and goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood. The win improved the ‘Cats overall record to .500 at 6-6 and spurred them onto regional weekend, where they would face the No. 1 seed Wisconsin.
The battle against the Badgers was hard-fought. Sophomore Lily Gilbertson opened up scoring for the ‘Cats in the 37th minute only to be met with a goal by Wisconsin’s Cameron Murtha 20 minutes later. The matchup remained deadlocked through the final half-hour and additional overtime play despite the ‘Cats outshooting Wisconsin 18 to 7. Unfortunately, it was penalty kicks which decided Northwestern’s fate, as their season came to a close in a 4-2 shootout.
On the men’s side, Northwestern was not so fortunate to earn a second-round matchup. Their demise came at the hands of a 3-0 loss to No. 6 ranked Indiana (now No. 3 in the national rankings), ending their season and in addition the two-decade long tenure of head coach Tim Lenahan.
The ‘Cats were simply outplayed by the Hoosiers. Of the two shots Northwestern garnered compared to IU’s 16, neither were on goal, and Indiana’s first two goals hit the back of the net before the halftime whistle was even blown. Their final goal came in the 72nd minute and served as the final nail in the coffin, sending the ‘Cats home with a record of 2-8-1.
Despite a disappointing final season, Lenahan will be remembered by the Northwestern Athletics community as the winningest coach in program history, leading the Wildcats to nine NCAA Tournament appearances, two trips to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in 2006 and 2008 and the 2011 Big Ten Conference title.