Sept. 28, 2005
EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern's 28th-ranked women's soccer team (7-2-1, 0-1-1) will look to remain perfect at home and in the process, record its first two conference victories of the 2005 season when they host No. 3 Penn State (10-0-0, 2-0-0) at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30 and Minnesota (4-4-2, 1-1-0) at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2 at the Leonard B. Thomas Athletic Complex.
The Wildcats began conference play with an 0-1-1 mark last weekend, dropping a 3-2 match at No. 26 Illinois Friday before battling Iowa to a 2-2 tie in double overtime Sunday in Iowa City, Iowa. Penn State is coming off two Big Ten wins last weekend over Indiana (2-0) and Purdue (3-2, OT) in State College. Minnesota dropped a 2-1 decision to Purdue last Friday before knocking off Indiana, 3-2, in overtime. The Gophers are at Wisconsin Friday before heading to the shores of Lake Michigan Sunday to face the Wildcats.
"We're very excited to be back at home for these Big Ten games," head coach Jenny Haigh said. "We think we have a tremendous opportunity to find two wins against very good competition. Penn State is a tremendous team and our team is excited to simply get after such a highly credentialed team. Minnesota always is a great challenge. They play with high energy that we know it is going to be important for us to be very sharp and motivated against the Gophers.
"It will be important for us to bring our best for both games this weekend and I think we're prepared to do that."
Northwestern: The Wildcats will look to get back to their winning ways after their six-game win streak was snapped last weekend at Illinois. These Wildcats are no stranger to close games with seven of NU's 10 games being decided by one goal or less. Sophomore Kelsey Hans (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville) and freshman Jenny Dunn (Pacific Palisades, Calif./Louisville) are tied for fourth in the Big Ten and share the team lead with five goals apiece. Hans also has three assists for a team-best 13 points and is fourth in the Big Ten with 37 shots, a 4.1 shot per game average. Tabitha Lowey (Peachtree City, Ga./Mcintosh) also has been a steady force offensively with four goals - two game-winners. In all, 12 different Wildcats have found the scoring column in either goal or assist fashion.
In goal, junior Whitney Jones (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West) spouts a 7-2-1 record to go with three shutouts and 46 saves, good for third in the conference.
Jenny Haigh is in her fifth season as head coach of the Wildcats. The Wildcats have been a force at home under Haigh, going 17-3-3 in the last two-plus seasons. That includes an 8-1-2 mark in 2004 and a 4-0 mark this season. The Wildcats made a nice leap in the Big Ten standings and regionally in 2004, finishing with 10 wins for the first time since 1998 and qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since Haigh's first season, 2001. NU went 5-4-1 in conference play, its first Big Ten winning record since 1998.
The Nittany Lions: To no surprise, third-ranked Penn State is leading the conference in a majority of team and individual statistical categories. The Lions are first in goals (29), points (81) and goals per game (2.9). Senior Tiffany Weimer, the nation's No. 2 goal scorer in 2004 and third-best so far this season, is leading the Big Ten in shots (48), points (32), goals (15) and game-winning goals (5) while teammate Carmelina Moscato leads the conference with six assists. In goal, first team All-Big Ten selection Erin McLeod is second with four shutouts and has a 0.80 goals against average. Penn State has outshot the opposition, 139-75, and have almost doubled-up its opponents, 48-27, in corner kicks. Head coach Paula Wilkins, a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year honoree, is in her fifth year as the head coach at Penn State and her 12th overall. The Nittany Lions have earned 10-consecutive NCAA Tournament berths and two NCAA College Cup appearances during her tenure as assistant and head coach. In 2002, she became the first person in NCAA history to participate in the College Cup as a player and head coach.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers are led offensively by Lindsey Schwartz who leads her team with four goals and 11 points and is second on the team with four assists. Clare Grimwood leads the Gophers and is tied for third in the Big Ten with four assists. Goalkeeper Molly Schneider leads the conference with 59 saves and has three shutouts to her credit. Mikki Denny Wright is in her second season as head coach after leading the Golden Gophers to their most successful season since 2000 last year.
Penn State owns a 10-2 advantage in the all-time series and took last year's game, 1-0, in State College. NU last defeated Penn State in 1998 in Evanston. The Gophers have a 7-5-1 edge in its series with Northwestern. The Wildcats, however, won last year's meeting, 3-1, in Evanston.
Big Ten ranked teams: Northwestern is one of five conference teams ranked in this week's SoccerBuzz Top 30. Topping the list is Penn State at No. 3 followed by Michigan (20), Illinois (21), Wisconsin (26) and the 28th-ranked Wildcats.
Lorme Named NU Female Athlete of the Week:
Jeanette Lorme influenced the outcome in every Wildcat match this week, recording a goal and three assists in NU's 1-1-1 week. On Tuesday against Valparaiso, the midfielder dished out both assists in the Wildcats' 2-0 shutout. Lorme continued to set up her teammates in the conference opener at Illinois Friday night, hitting fellow freshman Jenny Dunn for one Northwestern's two goals. On Sunday at Iowa City, Lorme took it upon herself to provide offense, registering one of the two goals scored in a 2-2 draw versus the Hawkeyes.
The Wildcats will travel to Michigan at 6 p.m. next Friday, Oct. 7 before heading to East Lansing for an 11 a.m. Sunday showdown with the Michigan State Spartans.