For the ‘Cats, things seem to be heading in the right direction.
Northwestern finally broke its almost month-long streak of bad luck on Thursday, winning its first game in 25 days against Iowa, 2-1. Then came a tie against No. 4 Penn State, 2-2. It seems that things are finally on the up-and-up for the ‘Cats, who are hopeful for a return to the successes of the season’s beginning.
The showdown in Iowa City started with an Emma Phillips masterclass. After an incredible save to keep Iowa’s first score out of the net, her set-piece header put Northwestern on the board. Ella Hase rallied in the second half and fired one into the net, which made it her 8th so far this year. Meg Boade was on the assist — her 12th of the season — and set a new record for most single-season assists in program history.
Speaking of record-breaking, the Wildcats kept up the trend against Penn State and went for a season-high 28 shots on goal in 90 minutes. Although they faced a squad down one player after a 24th-minute red card, the ‘Cats could not come out on top. The game was a collection of oh-so-close moments, epitomized by an early chance from Hase striking the crossbar. NU failed to capitalize on the opportunities it had against the shorthanded Nittany Lions, even though Penn State only put up four shots on goal.
These statistics make it seem like Northwestern should have the upper hand against a lot of these teams, but NU has a bad habit of outshooting opponents and not coming away with the W. In its 0-2 loss to Michigan, Northwestern had 13 shots to the Wolverines’ nine. And in the 2-3, last-minute kicker against Nebraska, NU had five more shots on the day.
Hopefully, the ‘Cats will be able to use some of that momentum to their advantage instead of letting it go to waste. These promising numbers allude to a team that can get into the attacking third of the field and are able to get past defenders. Now, it just seems like Northwestern has to perfect its crosses and fix some of the sloppiness that occurs before taking shots in the box. Despite that, it’s clear that this team has what it takes to win games.
The ‘Cats sit at 8-4-4 on the season, with two wins in the Big Ten; they’ll have two more chances to improve to .500 within the conference as they take on Minnesota on Thursday and Rutgers next week.