Danika Austin was a four-year starter for the Wildcats. In 2023, she’ll add a fifth year to that tally. The Third Team All-Big Ten defender is returning to the team to build on the success that Northwestern found last season. We preview her one last ride in purple and white.
Who is she?
Graduate student; defender; from Jenison, Michigan; 2022 Third Team All-Big Ten; has played in and started all but one game in her college career
87.2 minutes per game; 70 games played; 70 starts; 6,102 minutes; two goals; eight assists; 12 points
Alongside Emma Phillips, Austin was the cornerstone of a Wildcat defense that only allowed 18 goals over 23 games. Her leadership on the backline kept opposing offenses in check, but Austin herself contributed to some Wildcat scoring. She tied her career high in points (five), adding one goal and three assists to the Northwestern offense.
Austin was also disciplined, earning only one yellow card. This clean play allowed her to play the full 90 in 21 of the ‘Cats 23 games, providing stability to one of the most vital units on the pitch. Her 2,054 minutes played were the most on the team, and she was the only Wildcat to register over 2,000 minutes.
Austin has been a consistent and steadfast presence in the Wildcat defense for the past four years, and her return for a fifth year greatly increases Northwestern’s chances at success. She’ll slot in on the backline next to Emma Phillips and Nicole Doucette, and their experience should help cover the loss of Rowan Lapi. Austin’s four-year pedigree will also give confidence to the goalkeeper, whether it be transfer Gina Muzi or returning sophomore Reiley Fitzpatrick.
No. 29 will need to be a vocal leader on the pitch in order to mesh the familiar faces with the new crop of ‘Cats. Austin will serve as a role model for the newcomers as to what it means to be a Northwestern Women’s Soccer player, and she will need to supplement that leadership with consistent play, as she has done for the past four seasons. Her biggest responsibility will be forging the connection between the defense and the midfield, turning both into one coherent unit that allows opposing offenses zero space to create. With Austin back at the helm, coach Michael Moynihan’s defense remains in good hands.