Jan. 3, 2007
EVANSTON, Ill. -- First-year head coach Stephanie Erickson returned to Evanston to take over a program she helped bring to prominence in the 1990's. Although the 'Cats finished 8-10-2 in Erickson's first season, the new coach's dynamic offensive style placed Northwestern among the Big Ten's offensive leaders while speed on defense gave NU the capability to keep up with anyone in the conference. With plenty of talent returning on all parts of the field, the future certainly looks bright.
The Wildcats started the season on the right note, winning their season-opener 2-1 over DePaul. Junior Shannon Schneeman (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin Derham Hall), returning after missing all of 2005 due to injury, put the 'Cats on the board first when her shot from 20-yards out found the top-right corner of the net. Junior Kelsey Hans (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville) extended the lead to 2-0 on her first of her team-leading seven goals on the year. Hans was a second-team All-Big Ten selection.
After playing the first game of the season on the road, the 'Cats returned to Evanston to play Kentucky, the first of nine-straight home games. Schneeman scored her second goal in as many games, another shot from more than 20 yards, but Northwestern fell in overtime. The Wildcats dropped home contests to Missouri and Iowa State in a weekend where NU could not get on the scoreboard.
The 'Cats continued their long home stand by welcoming the Morehead State Eagles to Lakeside Field. It was the first of three times Northwestern welcomed a former Wildcat back to Evanston. Eagles' head coach Erin Aubrey played for the 'Cats during their run to the NCAA quarterfinals in 1997. The Wildcats cruised past the Eagles 8-0, letting out the frustration of being shut out in two-straight games.
The Wildcats went right at the Eagles from the opening whistle, putting pressure on the Morehead State defense. They finally broke through in the 13th minute when sophomore Jeanette Lorme (Santa Clarita, Calif./Saugus) took a pass from Schneeman, dribbled into the box and scored on a shot from 10 yards out. Senior Tori Bohannon (Neenah, Wis./Neenah) scored the 'Cats second goal when she headed in a corner kick from Schneeman. Sophomore Jenny Dunn (Pacific Palisades, Calif./Louisville) made the score 3-0 when she scored her first of five goals on the season. Sophomore Krystal Patterson (St. Louis, Mo./Shiloh (Ga.)) netted her first goal of the year and Schneeman added a penalty kick tally to give Northwestern a 5-0 lead heading into the break. Hans notched two more goals and freshman Jessica Palo (Ames, Iowa/Ames) added the first goal of her career as the 'Cats won 8-0.
Northwestern could not capitalize on the momentum and dropped a close 1-0 contest to Ball State the next Sunday. Junior goalkeeper Lauren Johnston (Denver, Colo./Denver East), who started every game for NU, gave a preview of things to come in the Big Ten season when she saved a Ball State penalty kick in the 70th minute. She made a game-saving stop on a penalty kick against Indiana.
The 'Cats swept their next weekend of contests, knocking off Northern Illinois 3-1, and downing Western Michigan 5-1. Patterson scored twice and Dunn added a tally as Northwestern eased past the Huskies. Dunn netted another two goals and Bohannon notched a pair as the Wildcats downed the Broncos. Freshman Zendzi Neal (Washington, D.C./Washington International) scored the first goal of her career in the win. Neal became a mainstay in the starting lineup in the midfield and totaled a pair of goals. Dunn won Big Ten Player of the Week Honors for her three goals against Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.
At the end of the non-conference season, Bohannon had three goals and seven points, eclipsing her career marks in both of those categories. Patterson set a new career-high in goals with three. Schneeman totaled nine points and freshmen Neal, Palo and Katherine Sampson (San Francisco, Calif./Drew School) all scored points.
After going 4-4 in the non-conference season, the 'Cats started Big Ten play by hosting Iowa and Illinois. The two Big Ten contests marked the end of Northwestern's nine-game home stand.
Lorme notched the game's only goal as the Wildcats defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 1-0 in a rain-shortened contest. The teams headed for shelter in the 72nd minute because of a tornado warning. It appeared the game would resume after a 90-minute delay, but it was called due to darkness. With thunderstorms looming, the 'Cats worked frantically to score the first goal of the match. They broke through in the 54th minute on a goal by Lorme. Dunn started the play by attempting to break through three Hawkeye defenders. She lost the battle, but the ball found Lorme who hooked a shot into the lower-left corner of the goal. The tally was her second of the season and gave the Wildcats the 1-0 advantage.
The Wildcats hit the road for the first time since the season-opener at DePaul when they headed to Minnesota and Ohio State. It was the 'Cats' first trip out of Chicagoland in 2006 and NU showed it could win games on the road in the Big Ten. Hans scored a goal in the second minute of a night contest against Minnesota and it was all the offense the 'Cats needed to knock off the Gophers, 1-0. Dunn made a run and beat a defender to the end line. Dunn sent a cross inside Minnesota's six-yard box. Hans' tried to finish the one-timer, but the Gopher net minder saved her first shot. The junior stayed with the play and put the rebound into the back of the net for the goal. Johnston protected the slim lead by making four saves.
The 'Cats completed a perfect road weekend in dramatic fashion by knocking off Ohio State in double overtime, 4-3. Freshman Alicia Herczeg (Agoura Hills, Calif./Agoura) scored her first of three goals on the year in double overtime for the game-winner. After fending off early Buckeye scoring opportunities the Wildcats got on the board first in the 10th minute when Schneeman's shot from 18 yards deflected off an Ohio State defender and into the net for a Buckeye own goal. Hans pushed the lead to 2-0 less than a minute later when she headed a cross from Dunn into the net for her fifth goal of the year.
Ohio State's Lisa Collison scored a true hat trick with three-straight goals in a ten-minute span to give the Buckeyes a 3-2 lead. Two of her goals were off one-on-one opportunities against Johnston. Contrary to the first frame, the second half stayed scoreless until the 68th minute. The Wildcats were granted a penalty kick after a Buckeye defender touched the ball with her hand inside the six-yard box. Schneeman, who scored on her only other penalty kick opportunity of 2006, took the shot and scored the equalizer. The score stayed at 3-3 until the end of regulation.
Ohio State controlled the play in the first extra session, but the Northwestern defense did not crack. Herczeg scored the game-winning goal at the 103:50. Dunn raced toward the end line with the ball and served a cross. The Buckeye goalie denied the freshman's first attempt, but Herczeg put her own rebound back into the net for the game-winner. The goal was the first for Herczeg as a Wildcat.
NU came back home for one final weekend to host Michigan State and Michigan. Neal scored the lone goal for the Wildcats as they fell to Michigan State, 2-1. Michigan State took a 1-0 at the 18:56 mark. The Spartans took the one-goal lead into halftime. Neal netted the equalizer for the 'Cats in the 58th minute. Michigan State attempted to clear the ball from deep within Spartan territory. Neal corralled the attempted clear in traffic, created space and put a shot into the top right corner for the goal. It was the freshman's second tally of 2006. Michigan State broke the stalemate with a goal in the 81st minute. The Spartans went up 2-1 and held on for the victory, their first in Big Ten play.
In their final home contest the 'Cats battled Michigan to a scoreless tie. Johnston made six saves for her third shutout in Big Ten play. Prior to the game the Wildcats honored their senior class of Bohannon, Cathy Biglari (Skokie, Ill./Niles North), Katie Wright (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) and Whitney Jones (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West).
Herczeg scored her second goal of the year, but it was not enough as the 'Cats fell 2-1 to Purdue in their first of five road games to close out the regular season. From West Lafayette, Northwestern traveled to Bloomington to take on the 16th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers. IU came into the game with a 13-game unbeaten streak, but the streak came to an end as the Wildcats took a close contest, 1-0.
Northwestern took a 1-0 lead at the 26:57 mark of the first half on a goal by Hans. The junior, who tallied her sixth goal of the year and 27th of her career, took a long crossing pass from sophomore Laura Janowitsch (Grafton, Wis./Grafton) and put it home for the goal. Janowitsch managed to get wide on a defender and create space to serve the ball to Hans. It was the sophomore's fourth helper on the year. She had one in 2005. Johnston stood on her head in the first half, making four saves including a lead-preserving stop in the 41st minute on a penalty shot by Indiana's Kelly Lawrence. Johnston recorded her fourth shutout of the season.
After playing to a 1-1 tie with local foe Loyola, the 'Cats headed to State College to take on No. 9 Penn State looking for another upset. NU played the game without its leading scorer Hans, who suffered an injury against Loyola, but Herczeg put the 'Cats on the board in the 25th minute with an unassisted goal. She had a one-on-one opportunity with the goalkeeper and put the ball over her head and into the net. Bohannon cleared the ball behind the Lions' defense and the keeper charged out of her net. Herczeg beat the goalie to the ball and her shot hit the post and went in for her third goal of the year.
Northwestern held the Big Ten's top-scoring team scoreless until the 70th minute when Allie Long tied the score with her fifth goal of the season. Denay Riley netted the game-winner in the 79th minute and the Nittany Lions held on for the 2-1 victory.
The Wildcats dropped a contest at Wisconsin to close out the regular season and took the No. 8 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, hosted by Penn State. The 'Cats would have another crack at the conference's top team.
The top-seeded Nittany Lions put pressure on the 'Cats from the opening kickoff, getting an open shot on that was corralled by Johnston. Penn State finally found the net in the eighth minute on a goal by Aubrey Aden-Buie. The junior found space on the right side of the 'Cats' six-yard box and took a shot with her toes on the end line that curled into the top-left corner.
The Lions added another score in the 10th minute when Ashley Myers took a pass from Sarah Dwyer and put it past the hands of a diving Johnston. The 'Cats found themselves down 2-0 less than 10 minutes into the contest.
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard in the 21st minute on a goal by Dunn, her fifth of the season. Neal set up the play on a corner kick, Northwestern's first of five for the match. After it bounced around in the box the ball found the foot of Hans. She took a shot that deflected off the Lion keeper to the waiting foot of Dunn who put a shot inside the post to cut the 'Cats' deficit in half at the 20:49 mark.
Neal gave the 'Cats their next scoring opportunity when she got behind the Nittany Lion backline and was taken down before she could get a shot off. The foul resulted in a penalty kick for Northwestern, and in the biggest game of the year, Schneeman, one of the leaders of this Wildcat squad elected to take the kick. She was a perfect 2-for-2 on penalty kicks entering the tournament and continued her unblemished mark to tie the score at 2-2 in the 27th minute. The junior approached the ball quickly, giving the impression she would attempt to force the ball into the net, but at the last moment before her foot struck the ball, Schneeman slowed up and placed the ball into a net that was left open when the keeper dove too early.
Penn State re-captured the lead at the 34:49 mark when a Zoe Bouchelle shot bounced off the hands of Johnston to Aden-Buie who put a shot over the keeper to make the score 3-2 on her second tally of the contest. Although the Wildcats controlled play for most of the second half they could not net the equalizer and their season came to an end with a loss to the Nittany Lions in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, 3-2.
For the 13th consecutive season the 'Cats had a player earn All-Big Ten honors. Hans made the All-Big Ten second team while freshman Leigh Jakes (McDonough, Ga./Eagle's Landing) was an All-Freshman selection. Schneeman was the sportsmanship award honoree for Northwestern and the junior math major earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honors for the second time in her career. Eight 'Cats earned Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Head coach Stephanie Erickson will return all but one starter from this year's team in 2007, and with their four wins in the Big Ten, a trip to the Big Ten Tournament and a win over a top-20 opponent to build on, the Wildcats will definitely look to make a huge impact on the conference in 2007.