RALEIGH, N.C. – Northwestern fell to N.C. State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 1-0, on Friday night on the road.
The Wildcats appeared in their fourth-straight NCAA Tournament, but snapped their three-year streak of advancing to the second round. The ‘Cats finished the season with a 10-5-4 record.
First year Mackenzie Wood had another excellent display in net, making six saves to cap off her rookie season that included a selection on the Big Ten All-Freshman team and the longest shutout streak in program history.
The Wolfpack’s goal came in the 76th minute on a corner kick scored on a close-range header by freshman Jenna Butler, who scored the first goal of her career.
Senior center back Kayla Sharples finished her career having started every game possible over the last four years. Her 87 consecutive games-started streak finishes as the second longest in program history behind the record of 89, set by goalkeeper Lauren Clem in 2017.
Senior Michele Chernesky had the best chance for the ‘Cats in the first half. On a set piece just outside the box, senior Marisa Viggiano drilled in a low ball that Chernesky flicked just over the bar.
The ‘Cats began to dominate possession in the second half, but could not get any clean shots on a wet and slick pitch.
After the NC State goal, the ‘Cats had two late chances to tie the game up. Senior Brenna Lovera gained a half-yard of space on the right edge of the box, but fired her shot just past the left post.
On a free kick a minute later from midfield, Wood drove a ball into the box that Sharples rose up to meet. Her header found its way right into the path of the Wolfpack keeper, and the ‘Cats came no closer to an equalizer the rest of the game.
Northwestern’s 11-member senior class departs as the most successful class in program history. The class helped win the program’s first ever Big Ten Title in 2016 while also tying the program record for wins a season (16) that season. They helped make a run to the Big Ten Tournament final in 2017, and appeared in four NCAA Tournaments, winning four tournament matches in four year.
The Wildcats are expecting to return 18 players next season, including ten players that have multiple starts in their career.
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