Aurea del Carmen is back, and she will lead one of the most experienced front lines in the nation. The All-Big Ten Second Teamer should make a huge impact as a passer and a scorer for Northwestern, just as she did last year:
Who is she?
Graduate student; forward; from Gilroy, Calif.; 2022 Second Team All-Big Ten; honored with United Soccer Coaches’ Third Team All-North Region selection last season.
43.2 minutes per match (averaged 69.6 in 2022); 70 matches played; 51 starts; 3,022 minutes; 12 goals; seven assists; 31 points
Aurea del Carmen got off to a great start in 2021, but she typically came on as a sub to start the season. One of those things changed in 2022, and one of them stayed the same. The forward started every one of Northwestern’s 23 matches, and put up 12 points before September even ended. Del Carmen made an instant impact both as a passer and a scorer, going on a stretch where she recorded a point in seven of 10 contests.
She was particularly great in a crucial Big Ten clash on Sept. 29 against No. 10 Rutgers, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Not only did del Carmen score Northwestern’s lone goal eight minutes in on a nice header, she also served as a constant offensive threat throughout the remainder of the match. She put up four of NU’s six shots on goal that night, which marked her career high.
From there, del Carmen continued to enjoy a breakout season, netting a go-ahead second-half goal against Wisconsin and taking on huge minutes as Northwestern approached the NCAA Tournament. Even though she went point-less in her last five matches, del Carmen’s presence freed up her teammates; it’s why Michael Moynihan played her for the full 90 against Vanderbilt and UCLA in November.
All in all, it was a tremendous season for No. 7. Her 17 points were second on the team behind Josie Aulicino, and 10 of those came in Big Ten play. Aulicino was also the only player on the team to put up more shots on goal, which is pretty impressive considering many of NU’s starters near the front played around 200 more minutes than del Carmen did.
With the bulk of Northwestern’s core back this fall, del Carmen should see even more opportunities to make game-changing plays both as a facilitator and finisher. The support of Aulicino, Meg Boade and Ella Hase in the attacking half guarantees that defenders can’t key in on swarming one player, which could open up the field for everybody.
This is a group with the experience and talent necessary for a Big Ten title campaign, and del Carmen should be at the forefront of that effort as a returning grad student. Even if she doesn’t go on a ridiculous scoring run as she did last September, the forward will give NU a huge advantage if she can continue working her way inside the box early in matches to pressure defenders and goalkeepers. If del Carmen can do that as Northwestern takes on the Big Ten and postseason gauntlets, then the opportunities will come seamlessly. They may not necessarily show in her statline, but the ‘Cats have more than enough weapons to capitalize. Her offensive versatility will be crucial for Northwestern to thrive against the Big Ten’s elite and advance in November again.