Despite a slow start to the regular season, women’s soccer is peaking late and is back on track to make a postseason run. Northwestern (10-6-2, 7-3-1 B1G) secured a second place standing in the Big Ten and a home-field game in the conference tournament with a 1-0 win over Michigan State (6-11-1, 2-8-1 B1G) on Wednesday. This game marked the Wildcats’ fourth consecutive win, all of which have been shutouts.
Throughout the night the ‘Cats were aggressive on offense, outshooting the Spartans 20-10, but they didn’t score until the middle of the second half. In the 62nd minute, senior Kassidy Gorman’s set piece hit junior Brenna Lovera at the top of the penalty box. Lovera’s long shot cut through the defenders and into the left corner of the goal to put Northwestern up. It was her fourth goal of the year and her eighth career game winner.
NU looked equally impressive on defense, backed by senior goalkeeper Lauren Clem. This shutout marked Clem’s ninth of the season and 46th all-time, which puts her at a tie for fourth in NCAA history. She had five saves, which may seem low, but it’s largely due to the fact that the rest of the back line prevents opponents from getting deep into Wildcat territory and taking clean shots.
For the third year in a row, Northwestern will have a home-field advantage for the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The team faces off against seventh-seeded Purdue on Sunday, and a win at home would translate into a semifinal appearance the following weekend at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana.
Last season, NU lost in the Big Ten Semifinals to Rutgers but advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament after. The Wildcats will need to get a bid to play in the national tournament, but seeing as they’re four games above a .500 record and finished the Big Ten regular season in second, it is likely that they’ll be playing through November.