After two consecutive BIG defeats, the #25 Northwestern Wildcats (9-4-2, 3-4-1 B1G) came back from an early deficit to beat the Indiana Hoosiers (7-6-2, 3-5 B1G), 2-1, on the back of a key penalty save from keeper Mackenzie Wood and a game-winning volley by Nia Harris. The ‘Cats badly needed momentum entering the Big Ten Tournament later this month, and this win may be what they needed to make a serious run into November.
Indiana took the first lead of the game against the run of play in the 20th minute. Hoosier defender Hanna Nemeth placed a nearly-perfectly taken free kick about 40 yards from the goal right near the penalty spot, where Allison Jordan flicked the ball into the back of the net past the onrushing Mackenzie Wood. The ‘Cats had the next big chance just five minutes later, but Indiana keeper Bethany Kopel dove to stop a six yard shot from Kayla Sharples off a set piece.
The ‘Cats dominated the first half, doubling Indiana in shot attempts and shots on target and controlling the run of play. Indiana's defense was superb, however, until the 43rd minute. An Indiana clearance fell into the path of Julietta Thron, who whipped in a cross to the foot of Brenna Lovera, who took a touch outside just inside the box and slammed an opposite foot shot into the bottom right corner to tie the game at 1-1 on her seventh goal of the season.
Indiana began the second half with all the possession, and nearly capitalized on a good spell with the ball after the referee awarded the Hoosiers a penalty on a handball by defender Kaylee Titus. Wood, however, guessed correctly and dove to the right fully-extended to save Annelie Leitner’s shot.
Both sides struggled to maintain possession until Northwestern’s Regan Steigleder received a full field cross on the left flank and sent a low, dipping cross that was parried across the face of goal by Kopel into the path of Harris, who hit a one-time volley off the right post and in. Kopel’s mistake ended up proving the difference as neither side managed to find the back of the net in a 2-1 Northwestern victory.
The ‘Cats barely outshot the Hoosiers after half as the game settled into stalemate after the first 15 minutes, but Northwestern effectively neutralized Indiana’s attack and made the adjustments they needed to make at half to grind out the win. The ‘Cats are back in action at the Lakeside field against Purdue on Sunday, Oct 14 at 2:30 p.m.