Last year, Northwestern spent almost the entire first half of the season in a goalkeeper by committee approach. In the second half of games, second team All-Big Ten goalie Mia Raben would protect the net. The first halves, however, were for freshman Reiley Fitzpatrick. Raben, as a graduate transfer, is gone now, but Fitzpatrick is still here, hoping to keep the goalkeeper job all to herself.
Who she is
Sophomore; goalkeeper; 5-foot-10; from Ashburn, Va.; Virginia Class 5 Female Athlete of the Year in high school
44.8 minutes per game; 11 starts; 493 total minutes; 4 goals allowed; 5 saves; 55.6% save percentage; 28 shots faced; 6-0-1 record.
Fitzpatrick committed to Northwestern back in November of 2021, eight months before Raben joined the team as a graduate transfer. Despite Raben’s arrival, it was Fitzpatrick who got the start when the Wildcats opened their season against Kansas State. She did give up a goal against the other purple Wildcats, but then did not allow a goal over her next three games. That stretch included the first save of her career against Kansas and the first credited win of her career against SIUE.
As the calendar turned to September, Fitzpatrick continued to improve. She made another save in the win of Xavier, then another against Butler a week later. From September 4 through September 18, over a four-game span, Fitzpatrick did not allow a single goal. She made two saves (against Xavier and Butler) and compiled a 4-0 record.
Unfortunately for Fitzpatrick, that was the high point of her season and some of her last action. While she earned another win against Purdue, she gave up a pair of goals against Nebraska and watched from the sideline as Raben made eight second-half saves. In what would prove to be Fitzpatrick’s last appearance of the year, she had the best performance of her career, making two saves in the September 25 win over Minnesota.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, Raben was in her last year of eligibility. She and Fitzpatrick formed a formidable one-two punch at goalkeeper, combining to hold Northwestern’s opponents scoreless for nearly 450 minutes, the sixth-longest streak in program history. With Raben gone, Fitzpatrick, who was never credited with a loss last year, should be the favorite to win the job.
However, there will likely be some complications. Gina Muzi, a graduate transfer from St. John’s who compiled 42 saves and a 7-5-5 record, is here this year. So is CJ Roy, a freshman from the Washington DC area. Fitzpatrick has the most Northwestern experience of the trio, but that might not be the deciding factor in who the starter is at the end of the season. If that starter is Fitzpatrick, then the ideal season for her would probably involve a similar performance, but in 90-minute increments instead of 45.