Northwestern’s 13-game unbeaten streak ends with crushing loss to Michigan State

By Madeleine Stern

The No. 15 Michigan State Spartans put out the No. 5 Northwestern Wildcats’ fire with a 2-1 win on Sunday at Martin Stadium.

The Spartans dominated early on, consistently pressuring and working the ball around the Wildcat defense. The ‘Cats struggled to develop an offensive attack.

In the 12th minute, the Spartans capitalized. Defender Ruby Diodati sent a corner kick soaring over the box. Michigan State was able to get the ball back into the penalty box. The ball bounced around before finding the feet of fellow defender Samantha White, who drove it into the lower right corner of the net.

Michigan State went up 1-0 and the energy from Northwestern was still not up to par. Less than 10 minutes after the first goal, Diodati and the Spartans earned another corner kick. This time, however, it was midfielder Celia Gaynor who got her head on the ball to find the goal, putting Michigan State up 2-0.

While Northwestern made a couple trips to its offensive end, the team was not doing enough to make any serious threats in the remainder of the half. The ‘Cats mustered just one shot compared to Michigan State’s six over the first 45 minutes of action. 

After 15 minutes to regroup, Northwestern started the second half with an intensity and aggression not seen in the first 45 minutes of the game. Less than four minutes in, Northwestern’s forward Meg Boade ripped a shot from just outside the 18-yard box, but it was secured by goalkeeper Lauren Kozal. 

Northwestern had another scoring opportunity a few minutes later with a corner kick taken by midfielder Josie Aulicino. The ball eventually popped out of the box to the feet of defender Danika Austin who took a shot but missed the goal.

Two minutes after that a Michigan State foul gifted Northwestern’s senior midfielder Rowan Lapi a chance to get the ‘Cats on the scoreboard with a penalty kick in the 54th minute. Lapi converted, narrowing the Wildcats’ deficit to one with a rocket into the bottom right corner of the goal. 

Both teams threatened down the stretch, and, while Northwestern’s goalkeeper Mia Raben had a shutout in the second half, the ‘Cats were unable to get anything else past Kozal. In the contest between the top teams in the Big Ten, the Spartans held on, leaving Evanston with a 2-1 win.

Sunday’s loss marks the Wildcats’ first defeat since Aug. 21 against Kansas. Although the team’s 13-game unbeaten streak has officially ended, Northwestern now looks to rebound with two games left in the regular season. 

The Wildcats will be back at Martin Stadium this Thursday at 7 p.m. to take on Iowa and celebrate senior night. Sarah Effress and Ethan Chung will be on the call.

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