Missed chances lead to NU loss Cats NU in loss

Sam Hong

It’s a shame for the Northwestern field hockey team that “scoring chances” are not an official statistic kept by the NCAA.

The unranked and unproven Wildcats had plenty of them on Saturday as they tried to upset No. 12 Iowa on the road in their Big Ten opener.

But the Hawkeyes (6-3, 1-0) prevailed in a convincing 4-1 victory, as they outshot NU 8-1 in the first half.

“The statistics are just so misleading,” NU head coach Marisa Didio said. “The numbers say that we only got one shot off in the first half, but we had a good majority of the early chances, and we continued to have more chances throughout the game.”

While NU (4-5, 0-1) had difficulty producing shots on those early opportunities, the Hawkeyes cashed in on theirs.

Iowa senior Tiffany Liester capitalized on a penalty corner 8:46 into the game to open the scoring.

“We needed to stop that corner really badly,” Didio said. “The minute that ball goes in, the home team just stole the advantage and ran with it.”

NU freshman goalkeeper Kelly Augustine, who stopped six of 10 shots on goal, also stressed the importance of that first goal.

“It’s not that the first goal set the tone for the rest of the game,” Augustine said, “but it ultimately impacts the final score.”

The first half didn’t end well for the Cats, either.

Iowa made it 2-0 as Jessica Zosky slammed home a rebound past Augustine in the final minute of the first half.

“The rebound just came off my glove,” Augustine said. “The ball was like a foot off the ground and she just hit it in.”

The Cats didn’t let the late goal affect their play in the second half, as they dominated the Hawkeyes in possession and ball control.

But Iowa kept piling on the goals.

Junior Pattie Gillern scored two goals in less than two minutes to stake the Hawkeyes to a 4-0 lead with about 20 minutes remaining.

Still, NU kept on the offensive, firing 11 shots and attempting eight penalty corners after the break. But they could not get the ball past Iowa goalkeeper Barb Weinberg. Only when Weinberg was taken out of the game with 14 minutes to go did NU finally manage to get on the board.

Freshman midfielder Christine Nannicelli fired the ball past the backup goalkeeper on a penalty stroke for the Cats’ lone goal.

It was Nannicelli’s first collegiate goal, and Didio said she will expect more from her as the season progresses.

“She wants to be the best,” Didio said. “And she wants Northwestern to be the best every single second she’s out there. That’s why she’s playing for us.”

NU and Iowa finished the game with 12 shots each, with the Cats having the edge in penalty corners, 10-4.

NU took another hit when senior midfielder Juli Fomenko left the game with an injury early in the first half, leaving the Cats without one of their most solid defenders.

An entry ball into the circle deflected off an opponent’s stick and struck Fomenko in the face, leaving her with a fractured nose and concussion.

Even with the loss of Fomenko — and the game — the Cats took some solace in their performance.

“There wasn’t a moment when we stopped working to improve our play,” Didio said. “Maybe there was a point where the game was out of reach but our players kept improving.

“This is a hard game to react to because we can’t get too caught up in the score. It looks like we played like crap, but we didn’t.”

Game 2

NU 1

Iowa 4