Women’s Soccer MVP: Josie Aulicino
Northwestern women’s soccer had an up-and-down season, finishing with a 7-9-1 record and missing the Big Ten Tournament. The team excelled defensively, but often struggled to find the back of the net, falling 1-0 in four straight games from Oct. 8 to 21.
Despite some of these setbacks, several Wildcat stood out. Fifth-year Regan Steigleder finished an incredible Northwestern career with four goals on the season, including an 89th-minute header to take a 1-0 win over Illinois Sept. 30. First-year Emma Phillips came into her own in the back line, showing no fear in her first season of Big Ten play. And younger players like sophomores Ella Hase and Ingrid Falls took on greater roles with the team, providing a new spark to the Wildcat offense.
But it was sophomore midfielder Josie Aulicino who topped the stat lists for the team in just about every category: her six goals, eight assists and 28 shots led Northwestern in 2021-2022. She also ranked sixth overall in the Big Ten in assists and fifth in points. After a stand-out first-year campaign in which she netted one goal and had three assists, Aulicino took her game to the next level this past year, and for that, she is your Northwestern women’s soccer 2021 MVP.
What really impressed me about Aulicino was her role in Northwestern’s set pieces. The ‘Cats had 91 corner kick opportunities to opponents’ 61 this past season, and nearly every kick came from Auilicino. So not only was she the Wildcat finding the back of the net the most, but she was also the one most often assisting her teammates in finding it as well.
One play that represents Aulicino’s set piece talent well is that aforementioned Steigleder 89th-minute header. Aulicino took the kick and sent it in perfectly for Steigleder to get head on it and put the ‘Cats up 1-0 with just under a minute left in regulation. It was a thriller for sure, and it couldn’t have been so without the assist from Aulicino.
This coming season, the ‘Cats will be without Steigleder for the first time in five seasons. However, have faith in Aulicino, now an upperclassman, to lead this team. If she can continue on the upward trajectory that propelled her from her first to second year, this season should be an exciting one for Northwestern women’s soccer.