Another year, another non-conference slate complete. What makes this one any different? Oh, just the fact that the ‘Cats went undefeated through it for the first time since 2018. Let’s see how they capped off the final week of non-Big Ten play.
Sep. 7 vs. Weber State
We can just call this one the Megan Norkett game.
After the slow start by the Wildcats against the Wildcats (confusing, I know), the first-year took over. In the 27th minute, she intercepted a pass and then took on half the Weber State defense to find NU its opening goal.
One minute later, she did it again, this time with a little help from Ella Hase. With all the poise of a four-year starter, Norkett nonchalantly one-tapped Hase’s pass straight into the bottom corner to double the lead.
After halftime, Weber State tried to claw back, with Alaina Wildenradt taking advantage of a ‘Cats miscue to make it 2-1. The law firm of Boade & Phillips ensured that the opposing Wildcats weren’t in it for long.
In the 57th minute, Meg Boade faxed over a cross to her partner Emma Phillips, who closed the deal, signing off with a beautiful header.
Two of Phillips’ three goals this season have featured an assist from Boade.
With the game pretty much squared away, Ella Hase came into the fray to finish off both a Boade run and the Wildcats.
This goal also happened to transform Hase into the team’s leading goalscorer, cementing the senior’s breakout season.
After this win, there was just one more hill left to conquer, this one settled firmly in the Appalachian Mountains. It was time to take on Virginia Tech.
Sep. 10 at Virginia Tech
This game featured a new twist on the season — the ‘Cats trailed.
Facing its third Power 5 opponent of the season, Northwestern went down in the 26th minute after a Taylor Price goal. But the sky wasn’t falling, fear not. Don’t forget, the ‘Cats have Megan Norkett.
In the 27th minute, she continued her hot streak, slicing and dicing her way to a solo goal to tie it up.
One minute later, Boade one-upped Norkett’s solo effort to put Northwestern in front. This one was too clean to even try to describe, so just watch:
Price tied it back up in the 52nd minute, but Northwestern was quick to respond yet again.
While Norkett was charging down the pitch, the speed demon Hase completed an overtake of the VT defenders, allowing Norkett to pick her out for the game winner. The Haas F1 team might need to take notes on straight-line speed from Ella.
Ella Hase. Off to the races. pic.twitter.com/TOciIi86hi— Northwestern Soccer (@NUWSoccer) September 10, 2023
With the non-conference slate successfully out of the way, the real season is upon us. Big Ten play begins on Sunday in West Lafayette, where the Purdue Boilermakers will be awaiting the ferocious Wildcat offense. When the two faced off last year, Northwestern took care of business, winning 3-0 behind goals from Hase, Boade and Josie Aulicino. Kickoff for this year’s matchup is set for 12 p.m. CT on B1G+.
After riding a train back to Evanston, the Wildcats will gear up to take on their forest rivals, the Wolverines. The Sep. 21 game will get underway at 7 p.m. CT, and Michigan will be out for revenge. The ‘Cats won last season’s matchup, 3-0, thanks to scores from Regazzoni, del Carmen and Hase.
Northwestern will have the opportunity to start its Big Ten schedule with an unblemished record, and for a team with conference title aspirations, maintaining a hot start will be crucial.