Badly needing a victory in the final stretch of the B1G season to stay in the top 8, Northwestern (9-4-3, 3-4-2) barely hung on to tie Purdue (6-6-4, 1-5-3) 0-0 in overtime. Both teams left chances on the field, and goal-line clearances by both sides prevented a crucial victory for either side.
Before the game, Northwestern honored their winningest senior class in history: Kayla Sharples, Marisa Viggiano, Molly Lansford, Simmrin Dhaliwal, Michele Chernesky, Jenny Haskel, Nikia Smith, Brenna Lovera, Hannah Davison, Olivia Korhonen and Aspyn Repp, who are all playing their second-to-last home game for the ‘Cats.
Both teams began the game quite slowly, and by the end of the first 45, Northwestern amassed the only two shots of the game. Northwestern’s D stifled Purdue’s attack, as the Boilermakers were essentially left off the stat sheet. The ‘Cats had five corners, but were unable to generate any real chances on Purdue keeper Katie Luce.
Neither team began the second half threatening, with misplaced passes and infrequent bouts of possession marring any chances for either team. Purdue began to ask questions of the Northwestern back line, however. Mackenzie Wood was forced into a few key saves, specifically when Julia Ware struck a ball from outside the box that appeared to be headed for the upper corner, but Wood tipped the shot just outside the post.
Around five minutes later, Wood spilled a shot near the end line taken in front of net, that Boilermaker center back Sarah Clark attempted to put back in the net, but Wood dove right in front of Clark’s low-driving shot. Purdue had another great look by Hannah Melchiorre, who cut in after making a nice run down the right flank and blasting a ball over the crossbar.
Both teams upped the tempo in the last ten minutes or so. Northwestern’s attack ran through the flanks, but a lack of creativity in the final third prevented the ‘Cats from taking any serious chances until the 85th minute, when Boilermaker Hannah Mussallem made a goal line save on Hannah Davidson’s rocket off a corner. The tumultuous ending climaxed with the best chance of the game for either side, when keeper Wood floated the ball off a free kick with around 15 seconds left, and Brenna Lovera swung a right footed shot for the upper corner that just whistled past Luce at the post as time expired. The ‘Cats lost one of their most creative midfielders in Regan Steigleder, who left the match with an apparent injury.
In OT, Northwestern started slow as Mackenzie Wood looked uncomfortable dealing with a series of shots as she botched a punch-out spilled a shot soon afterward. Purdue dominated the first overtime period, but were unable to capitalize. In the second overtime period, Northwestern held more of the ball, but Purdue had an excellent chance that Wood palmed over the crossbar. The game ended goalless, as Purdue was outshot 14-8 and 7-2 in overtime.
Northwestern plays next at 7 p.m. on Thursday against Illinois sitting at 9th place. The ‘Cats will badly need a victory to get into the Big Ten tournament, as their tourney chances are on life support after today’s draw.