Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

32° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Field Hockey Analysis: Shooting for moon, Cats miss stars, too

The Northwestern field hockey team came into this season with high expectations — maybe a little too high.

The Wildcats hoped to win at least one game in the Big Ten tournament for the first time in seven years and make it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in nine years.

But first-year coach Kelly McCollum’s squad could not overcome numerous injuries on defense and a brutal schedule featuring five of the Elite Eight teams in the NCAA tournament.

“I think overall we took some big steps,” McCollum said. “The outcomes were not necessarily what we planned on, but we did take steps towards what we set out to do at the beginning of the season.”

The Cats began the season 4-0 and were ranked 19th in the first STX/NFHCA poll of the season. But they went 3-13 after the strong start, finishing the season with a seven-match losing streak. They placed last in the Big Ten for the fourth straight year.

But NU kept games close, dropping six of the 13 losses by only one goal.

“I think we improved, but you have to realize this team is rebuilding,” senior Candice Cooper said after NU lost to Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten tourney.

Although the team wasn’t as successful as anticipated, individuals did have breakout seasons for the Cats.

Cooper was named First Team Regional All-American and Second Team All-Big Ten, and ended the season sixth in the nation with 21 goals.

Cooper’s 46 points this year is third on the NU all-time single-season scoring list, while her 21 goals is third on the single-season goals list. Coming into the year, she had 18 career goals. She is eighth all-time with 90 points and seventh all-time with 39 goals.

“She is a winner and works hard to make everyone around her a winner,” McCollum said before a two-game series in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Small also was named to the Big Ten’s second team this season, and was a Second Team Regional All-American. Small was second on the NU team with four goals and had four assists. As a midfielder, she was a leader on the offensive and defensive ends and looks to play an even bigger role next year if NU is going to improve.

“Meghan was definitely a player that impacted the momentum of our team,” McCollum said.

The freshman quartet of Amanda Care, Katie Charles, Cassie Miller and Jenny Stancati were mainstays in NU’s lineup this season, each playing in at least 18 of the 20 matches.

“With the experience these kids are getting, next year looks great, and so does the future,” McCollum said before a match against Iowa.

McCollum, the sixth coach in NU history, loses only two seniors — Cooper and Morgan Kuhn.

“I think we set very high expectations (for the season),” McCollum said after the final game. “Maybe the expectations were very high for a group at this stage, but that’s going to be the continued expectation of the program, and the kids are on board with it.”

Reach Abraham Rakov at [email protected].

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Field Hockey Analysis: Shooting for moon, Cats miss stars, too