‘Cats look to get back on track in season finale at Ohio State
By Adam Bakr
Although the Big Ten Regular season title is now out of reach, there is still plenty to play for ahead of the Northwestern women’s soccer team’s regular season finale at Ohio State on Sunday.
The Wildcats’ lead in the race for a Big Ten Tournament home game has shrunk after back-to-back losses. They have 19 points, while Rutgers, Ohio State and Nebraska are all within reach at 17 points. Penn State and Wisconsin are both on 16, but Northwestern has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Wisconsin.
A win means anything else that happens today matters. A loss means Ohio State jumps them in the standings, and results elsewhere could see Northwestern finish anywhere between third and sixth. A draw confirms a top four finish.
“We can clinch second place, which would be the second highest finish we’ve ever had,” head coach Michael Moynihan said. “We also want to build momentum going into postseason play, so it’s a big game for us.”
NU has been a better team away in the conference this season, winning all four road fixtures. They should also be welcoming Caterina Regazzoni back into the lineup, whose absence played a big part in the loss to Iowa. Prior to Thursday – her first missed game of the season– Regazzoni had played every minute of every conference game. To go with her defensive presence, she also has three goals and two assists.
“It was kind of a situation where we felt if we played her then she might not be able to play on Sunday,” Moynihan said. “We want to make sure she’s strong as we finish up the season and go into postseason play.”
Ohio State comes into this one off of a home loss to Michigan State, which sealed the regular season Big Ten title for the Spartans. Before that game though, the Buckeyes had won five of six, scoring 24 goals and only conceding three, including 7-0 and 6-1 wins over Maryland and Illinois respectively to finish that stretch. The only game they failed to win in that run was a 2-2 draw against Nebraska.
“Ohio State has been scoring a ton of goals lately,” Moynihan said. “It’ll be a good challenge.”
Emma Sears and Kayla Fischer lead the way for OSU, each with eight goals on the season. Kailyn Dudukovich is one behind with seven. Defensively, they have conceded 12 goals all season, tied with Northwestern for second best in the Big Ten.
Ohio State won 2-1 when these sides met last year in Evanston; however, only five of the Wildcat starters from this season started in that one.he overall record against the Buckeyes is currently at 4-11-3.