The show must go on.

After going undefeated in the first nine games of the season, Northwestern Women’s Soccer (8-4-4, 2-4-2 B1G) has struggled since entering conference play. Their two Big Ten wins thus far consist of a 1-0 victory over Purdue (3-11-2, 0-6-2 B1G) and a 2-1 win over Iowa (9-3-3, 3-3-2 B1G). The pair of wins was split by a three-week string of ties and losses that sent the ’Cats to the bottom third of the B1G rankings.

Across all games, Northwestern averages 2.2 goals per game. However, in conference play, that average is brought down to one, tying them with Illinois (6-6-3, 2-4-2 B1G) at 10th in the conference in that stat. They also rank 10th in the B1G in goals allowed per game with 1.1.

The offensive charge is led by fourth-year forward Ella Hase and fourth-year midfielders Meg Boade and Josie Aulicino. Hase leads the team with ten goals and 22 points (a stat where goals count as two points and assists count as one). Boade and Aulicino have scored four goals apiece. Boade has set a single-season program record with 12 assists, good for first in the conference and second in the nation, while Aulicino’s seven assists put her at fourth in the B1G.

Third-year defender Emma Phillips has also gotten in on the action, recording six goals this season with a 30% shooting percentage, the second highest on the team.

Along with Phillips, Northwestern’s defense is anchored by fourth-year defender Nicole Doucette and graduate defender Danika Austin, who have averaged 86 and 83 minutes of play per game this season, respectively. Second-year midfielder Caterina Regazzoni has also displayed her defensive prowess, which earned her Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 19.

Second-year goalkeeper Reiley Fitzpatrick has stepped up and shown considerable improvement since last year, saving 71% of shots as opposed to 56% in 2022. She made a career high six saves during Northwestern’s 0-1 loss to Indiana (11-1-4, 5-1-2 B1G) on Sept. 24.

As Northwestern rounds out conference play with two matches to go, they’ll be aiming to finish strong and build momentum for the Big Ten Tournament, which begins Sunday, Oct. 29. This season hasn’t been the prettiest, but it’s not over yet. After all, you’re looking at a team that made it to the third round of last year’s NCAA tournament and finished the season with 16 wins, the most since 2016.

If Northwestern’s cast of returners can find last year’s spark, they may be able to turn this season around.

Thumbnail photo by Brandi Simpson / North by Northwestern