Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Doucette averaged 55 minutes per game last season. That figure is her career average, and in 2022, she played about 86 minutes per game. The article has been corrected to account for that difference.
Northwestern’s defense was one of the main reasons the ‘Cats managed to finish the 2022 season at No. 11 in the coaches poll. Fielding 10 shutouts in 23 games, players like Emma Phillips and Danika Austin proved pivotal to the team’s success. Nicole Doucette was another starter on the unit, and heading into her senior season, she still has more to prove.
Who is she?
Senior; defender; 5-foot-5; from Lake Bluff, Ill.; played on the No. 4 club team in the country in 2019, and majors in Communication Studies.
55.4 minutes per game; one goal; two assists; 21.4% shots on goal; statistics for defenders are hard to keep track of, so these figures don’t give Doucette a fair showing.
There is a flurry of positions across sports that lack the glamorizing statistics that so easily entrance fans yet are vital to the success of any team. Defenders in soccer are one of those units.
On the statsheet, Nicole Doucette’s 2022 campaign didn’t impress via an evident goal-scoring prowess or an unselfish knack for assists. But head coach Michael Moynihan saw in the Lake Bluff native what she offered on the grittier part of the pitch — the ‘Cats’ side of the halfway line.
Doucette started all 23 games for NU last season, contributing to double-digit shutouts. Her high-energy, burst-heavy methods translated into a persistent counterattack against attacking opponents.
Despite these impressive efforts, what will serve as Doucette’s claim to fame in the pantheon of Northwestern sports is her game-winning goal against Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament Semifinal. The defender was entrusted by Moynihan and Co. to attack more in the postseason.
Now entering her senior season, expect Doucette’s role in Northwestern’s gameplan to face a critical fork in the road. While Phillips and Danika Austin, the other defensive stalwart in NU’s scheme, flex a career average of playing more than 80 minutes per game, Doucette only ascended to that level last year, when she averaged over 86 minutes per game.
That isn’t to say Doucette isn’t an asset to the team. Rather, her role as a starter isn’t as cemented. First-year Keira Wagner is set to arrive on campus in the fall, meaning there will be new blood to challenge the senior for minutes. Seniority will be on Doucette’s side, but with a more crowded position room and two starting spots already locked up, how much action she sees will remain a mystery until a few games into the year.
All this to say that Doucette might see a dip in minutes this year, along with her fellow veteran teammates. Of course, she won’t be subjugated to the bench after starting and playing north of 86 minutes a game last year. Wagner and reserves on the defense could easily appear to need more time to develop, leaving Doucette the clear front-runner for the field action. In any case, the ‘Cats will look forward to her stifling contributions in 2023.