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Women’s soccer: Goals (and shots) galore

Rank them.

@NUWSoccer on Twitter.

There were no more SportsCenter Top Ten-worthy goals, but Northwestern women’s soccer is undefeated since the last update, bringing its record to 4-1-1 on the season. Let’s break down the eventful last two weeks.

August 25 vs Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

The Wildcats roared back from their loss to University of Kansas with a dominant 5-0 victory in their home opener.

It only took until the 17th minute for junior forward Ella Hase to find the back of the net, thanks to assists from junior midfielder Josie Aulicino and senior defender Danika Austin. Aulicino then scored twice in the next five minutes, with both strikes assisted by senior midfielder Aurea del Carmen. As they say, when it rains, it pours, and that downpour brought the score to 3-0, which held until halftime.

The ‘Cats struck again quickly after the break. Junior forward Meg Boade flicked one right over the keeper within eight minutes after an assist from senior midfielder Rowan Lapi. Northwestern’s final goal in the 76th minute came from another member of the junior class when midfielder Ingrid Falls converted on assists from first-year forward Hayley Newman and sophomore forward Jennifer McGuire. For those who lost count (it’s a lot of goals!), this brought the score to 5-0, where it would remain for the remainder of the match.

Northwestern’s defense was hardly tested, as SIUE only had for shots, none of which were on goal, and two corner kicks. The goalies didn’t even have the opportunity to make a save. The offense, on the other hand, was extremely proficient. They tallied 13 shots (eight on goal) and controlled the time of possession.

The next game, however, was not as exciting.

August 28 at Oakland University (Mich.)

The ‘Cats’ return to Evanston was short-lived, as they promptly left again to make their way across beautiful Lake Michigan and take on the Golden Grizzlies of Oakland University. This recap will be much shorter than the last one.

No one scored for either team.

That’s all you need to know.

If you want more details, this lack of offense was due to a a lack of trying (at least on Northwestern’s behalf). The Wildcats took 15 total shots, but saw all six of their attempts on goal saved by Oakland’s net-minder Noëmi Stadelmann. NU spent much of its time in the final third, taking four corner kicks, but the Wildcats must’ve wasted their scoring against SIUE. Senior midfielder Lily Gilbertson picked up a yellow card in the 61st minute, and that was about the most exciting thing to happen.

Onto the next.

September 1 at DePaul University

Northwestern nearly made it back home, but the team took a detour in Lincoln Park to take on the crosstown rival Blue Demons. Maybe being back in Illinois was all it took to get back to their winning ways, because the ‘Cats defeated the blue-tinted minions of Hades 3-1.

The Wildcats fell behind extremely quickly when DePaul’s Freya Jupp scored in the fourth minute. This was only Northwestern’s third time trailing this season (to this point), so it would take some resilience to find an equalizer. The purple and white quest was still in process when the halftime whistle blew, but their search would end soon. The tie appeared a mere five minutes after play resumed, with del Carmen scoring on an assist from first-year midfielder Caterina Regazzoni. The teams remained knotted until sophomore defender Emma Phillips (remember her? think: bike) scored unassisted in the 77th minute to put Northwestern up 2-1. The cherry on top came in the 88th from Aulicino off a Lapi assist, capping off a 3-1 victory for the ‘Cats.

An impressive stint in net from Mollie Erikksson prevented total destruction for DePaul. Northwestern took 27 shots (!!!) with 16 on goal (!!!) , but Erikksson made an impressive 13 saves, keeping what could’ve been a slaughter to a respectable loss. Erikksson was given little support from her offense, though, which took only four shots (which is already small, but looks even smaller next to NU’s 27).

This level of offensive prowess would be required if the ‘Cats wanted to be victorious in their next contest against No. 19 Xavier. Let’s see how they fared.

September 4 vs No. 19 Xavier University

Northwestern’s first ranked opponent of the season was the Xavier Musketeers, and the ‘Cats were able to prevent any muskets from firing in a 2-0 shutout victory. The ‘Cats weren’t going to let any poachers into Martin Stadium to steal their pelts, so NU played an impressive game both offensively and defensively to defend its home turf.

The Wildcats scored efficiently, getting the hard work (for the offense, at least) out of the way quickly. Lapi (on a feed from Aulicino) had a screamer from outside of the box find its way to the top left corner to open the scoring in just the fourth minute. Del Carmen, assisted by Aulicino and Phillips, located the back of the net shortly after in the 12th minute to put the Wildcats up 2-0. The team didn’t look back for the rest of the afternoon.

Northwestern’s goalkeeping tandem of first-year Reiley Fitzpatrick and graduate student Mia Raben combined for four saves in the shutout, with the former having one and the latter collecting the rest. They were helped out by a defense that only allowed nine total shots and four corner kicks.

Moving Forward

This impressive 4-1-1 record with a ranked win to start the season may very well put Northwestern in a spot to be ranked in this upcoming poll, and I believe its potential is even greater than what we have seen. As the season goes on and the team continues to find its form, I expect the finishing to get even better than it already is, leading to more high-goal performances.

As things stand now (and if you hadn’t figured it out already), Aulicino is the team’s star player with 10 total points, three goals and four assists.

Aulicino and the rest of the team will have to put forth strong performances this upcoming week if they wish to extend their winning streak. Stanford comes to town on Thursday, September 8, with kickoff at 7 p.m. CT on Big Ten Network. The Butler Bulldogs will be next for the ‘Cats when they are in Evanston on Sunday, September 11 at 2 p.m. CT (streaming yet to be announced.)