Maryland women’s soccer continues its weekend tour of Illinois, as it gets to face Northwestern less than 48 hours after defeating the Illinois on Friday. After a strong 2016, the Wildcats are off to difficult start in 2017, still unable to find consistency on both ends of the field.
Northwestern is coming off a tough, 0-0 draw over Rutgers, the same team to which Maryland lost 2-0. This will be the last leg of Maryland’s three-game road trip before it heads home for two games.
The Terps and the Wildcats are scheduled to begin their match at 2 p.m. ET Sunday afternoon, and BTN Plus will have the broadcast.
Northwestern Wildcats (4-4-2, 1-1-1 Big Ten)
2016 record: 16-3-4, 7-1-3 Big Ten
Head coach Michael Moynihan. Prior to joining Northwestern, Moynihan spent 19 seasons at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, totaling nine NCAA tournament appearances. Moynihan has a 53-45-14 record in Evanston, but he lead the Wildcats to two NCAA Tournament appearances and a 30-9-6 record between 2015 and 2016.
Players to know
Kayla Sharpless, junior, defender, No. 27. Since arriving at Northwestern, Sharpless has started each of the Wildcats’ 54 games since 2015. While she entered the season with three goals in each of her first two seasons, Sharpless has already matched that mark this year, leading the team in both goals with three and points with eight. She has also played all 830 minutes this season, one of two Northwestern players to do so, the other being the goalkeeper.
Marissa Viggiano, junior, midfielder, No. 14. Like Sharpless, Viggiano has been a rock for Northwestern, playing in every game since 2015. The former top-25 recruit may have only three career goals, but she lays an aggressive game, leading the team in shots this season with 16 after shooting 34 times last year. Viggiano’s six points are second on the team this year.
Goalkeeping. Laura Clem hasn’t been great this season, but relative to the rest of her team, she is a strength. Her 4.3 saves per game is fourth in the Big Ten, and she has completed four shutouts in ten starts this season. However, she is still letting up about 1.1 goals per game, and is saving around just 78 percent of shots she’s faced.
Points. Northwestern has struggled at times offensively, only totaling 26 points through nine games. Northwestern is averaging 2.6 points per game, one goal per game and less than an assist per game, each of which is ranked 13th in the Big Ten, only topping Illinois each time.
Three things to watch
- How does Maryland handle the quick turnaround? The Terps have less than 48 hours to move on from a tough victory over Illinois, and they are doing so banged up, as Chelsea Jackson and Jarena Harmon didn’t play on Friday. If those two—plus Malikae Dayes, who left the game with an injury—don’t play, it will be another test in Maryland’s depth up front. However, Northwestern must also deal with this turnaround, having played a double-overtime match on Friday night.
- Which players increase their opportunities? Kate Waters was Friday night’s hero, securing the winning goal against Illinois late in the game. If Jackson and Harmon aren’t yet ready to play, other players will need to step up going forward. Freshmen Anissa Mose, Hope Lewandoski, Sydney Staier and Gi Krstec all need to be ready to take that next step if necessary.
- Will Rachel Egyed and the Terps’ defense continue to dominate? Maryland has only allowed six goals through nine games, and the Terps have surrendered two goals in the same game just once. The mentality of this team will continue to be strong in its own zone, and that will be highlighted as it is the healthiest unit on the team. Additionally, Egyed’s presence is as important as ever in net to keep that unit steady.