It’s time to chase the crown.
In spite of dropping the semi-finals of the Big Ten Tournament to No. 13 Rutgers, No. 4 Northwestern was granted the fourth overall seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
For those unfamiliar with how the bracket works, the top three teams earn a first-round bye and host a neutral competition site for two non-seeded teams that match up in play-in games. There are five other national seeds for a total of eight, which will host their first-round matchups. In the remaining rounds, the higher seed will host before heading to Baltimore for the Final Four and Championship.
After falling to Maryland in College Park the final week of the regular season, the rainy confines of Piscataway were no kinder to the ‘Cats. The Scarlet Knights were clearly out for revenge after NU beat them in April, and they defeated the ‘Cats 13-5 in a similar fashion to the Terrapins. Once Rutgers claimed the lead on Friday, the ‘Cats were unable to catch up.
Northwestern did get on the board first thanks to graduate student Jill Girardi, but after Rutgers evened the score at 2-2, it exploded for a four-goal lead by halftime. Cassidly Spillis led the Scarlet Knights with five goals, and Taralyn “TT” Naslonski notched three.
This time, it really wasn’t the draw controls that caused trouble for Northwestern — both teams pulled in eleven, with Girardi tallying four and first-year Sammy White chipping in three.
A combination of unfavorable conditions and gritty defense seemed to cause Northwestern to lose steam. The ‘Cats were held to their fewest goals in a game this season, failing to finish in the arc despite taking 25 shots. Though Rutgers fell into foul trouble multiple times, Northwestern was not able to capitalize on the woman-up or free position shots as much as they would have liked to.
That being said, Northwestern will certainly look to get back in the win column after dropping their last two conference matchups when they face Central Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, May 13 at 4:00 PM CST in Martin Stadium.