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Women’s soccer: Offense stays hot as ‘Cats remain unbeaten

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I heard a lot of stuff this past weekend about how bad Northwestern football’s offense was, but those critics must not have been watching the games I was. I mean, they scored six goals in two games, bringing their total to 20 on the season.

Wait, did you think I was talking about the FBS team? No, no, no. I’m talking about Northwestern women’s soccer. In Week Three, the ‘Cats’ offense continued its dynamic run to start the season, remaining on pace to break its single-season goal total. They’ve scored at least three goals in all but one game. If you want excitement, this is your team. Let’s see what they cooked up this week.

Aug. 31 vs. Boston University

Northwestern started Week Three back on the lakeside at Martin Stadium, this time inviting Boston University to bask on the shores. By the time 90 minutes had elapsed, the ‘Cats gave felines an advantage in the age-old debate, taking down the Terriers, 3-0.

Meg Boade was doing what she usually does in the 14th minute. After dribbling through most of the Boston defense, she picked out Ella Hase right in front of the goal. By the time BU realized what was happening, it was too late. The ball and the back of the net had already become close acquaintances, and Hase had her third goal of the year to put Northwestern up, 1-0.

The ‘Cats kept shooting, but they weren’t able to come up with anything else before the half. In fact, it took until the 82nd minute for them to notch another goal, when first-year Megan Norkett took matters into her own hands.

After collecting a long ball from Danika Austin, Norkett put a BU defender in a blender to open a perfect path to the bin. She converted, earning her first collegiate goal in the process.

Four minutes later, Boade added one of her own, as she’s never one to miss out on the fun. With a flying scissor-kick that would make Bruce Lee proud, she fired home Aurea del Carmen’s cross.

If it wasn’t clear, the ‘Cats were dominant the entire match. They out-shot the Terriers, 19-3, while also being clinical defensively en route to their fourth shutout of the season. This stingy defending included a full-extension save from Reiley Fitzpatrick, who seems to have the starting role all but locked up.

There was no time to gloat, though. Next up was a 2022 NCAA Tournament rematch against Vanderbilt.

Sep. 3 at Vanderbilt

For most offenses, being without your (and the conference’s) leading goal scorer would be a major problem. Northwestern is not most offenses.

Josie Aulicino went down against BU and, consequently, was out for the tussle against the Commodores. Northwestern still managed to score three goals.

Del Carmen called first dibs on scoring, and she did it all by herself. After collecting a loose ball just outside the box, she unleashed a screamer, curling it around the outstretched keeper. It was truly a jaw-dropping goal — see for yourself:

Vandy equalized a few minutes later, insisting that this one wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. That goal was the first let up by Northwestern in open play, which was bound to happen at some point.

The early-match scoring continued with another solo goal from outside the box, this one coming from Boade. After winning a ball off a Vanderbilt fullback, she saw her opportunity and fired a shot from long range, catching the Commodore Keeper off her line.

Two minutes later, Northwestern had a corner and took full advantage. Hase found herself face-to-face with the ball and no one in between her and the goal. Unsurprisingly, she made sure that the ball made itself nice and cozy in the back of the net.

At that point, it seemed like the Wildcats were in a good spot and heading for a fourth straight victory. But the Commodores weren’t going down without a fight.

Right after the half, Courtney Johnson scored to bring Vanderbilt back within one. It seemed like Northwestern might be able to hold out following that, but in the 85th minute, Ella Eggleston found the equalizer.

While this one was a tie on the scoresheet, the way it went down made it feel more like a loss. For the first time this season, the ‘Cats were out-shot (13-7), and they also picked up more fouls than the Commodores. This was the first true test for the Wildcats, and they faltered some. With one more week until Big Ten play, they’ll need to lock in to ensure they’re in the best possible spot to contend in the conference.

Moving Forward

For the second time this season, next up is another set of purple Wildcats. Weber State is coming to town, with the matchup set for Sep. 7 at 7 p.m. CT. If you’re not able to watch on B1G+, you should tune in to a certain student-run radio station where yours truly will be on the call.

After Weber State, Northwestern will be travelling to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. I’m not entirely sure what a Hokie is, but I’m pretty sure a Wildcat is cooler. Sep. 10 at 12:30 p.m. CT will let us know for sure.