Field Hockey: Uchida runs middle, sets team’s tempo

Bill Carey

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Senior midfielder and defender Stacy Uchida’s name rarely shows up in the box score. She has not recorded a goal or an assist in her four years with Northwestern.

Senior midfielder and defender Stacy Uchida’s name rarely shows up in the box score. She has not recorded a goal or an assist in her four years with Northwestern.

“Stacy’s a great player all around,” senior forward Courtney Plaster-Strange said.

Everywhere she is, she’s a strong player. It’s really great to have her in the backfield with her poise. And it’s great to have her in the midfield to work the ball up. Wherever she is on the field, she makes a difference.”

When No. 18 NU (11-4) gets a penalty corner, Uchida plays the role of “stick-stopper,” which is similar to a holder on field goal attempts in football.

When the NU player standing out of bounds pushes the ball in play, Uchida must stop the ball and tap it forward into the circle for the hitter to shoot it as quickly as possible.

“It’s really just keeping it simple,” Uchida said. “Doing the simple things has worked quite well for us. Each hitter likes (the ball placed) a little different, but at the same time, we have set plays so we’re very cohesive.”

At the beginning of the week, NU was tied for the NCAA lead in penalty corners attempted with 126. After NU’s victory over California on Tuesday, the team has 56 more penalty corners than its opponents.

The Cats have been successful in converting many of those attempts, and coach Tracey Fuchs credits Uchida with much of that success.

“The hitter gets the goals, but the stick-stopper’s the one, every time, that has to be right on,” Fuchs said. “They have to set the ball in the right position for the hitter. You don’t get all the accolades as a stick-stopper, but (Stacy’s) been really, really consistent for us.”

After seeing action in only two games in her first two seasons with the Cats, Uchida has started in 35 straight games. Uchida’s experience playing multiple positions enables her to key the Cats’ offense from all over the playing field.

“She holds it together in the middle,” sophomore forward Chelsea Armstrong said. “She’s running the tempo of the game. She’s just a really important leader.”

With the addition of Armstrong and the improvement of NU’s attacking line, Uchida’s job of setting up the offense has gotten easier this season. The Cats have scored 60 goals this year, which puts the single-season school record of 69 within reach.

“I just try to keep composed, center the ball and let the forwards score,” Uchida said. “They’ve been doing a great job, so I just need to get them the ball. It’s been pretty simple.”

NU will be looking for its first Big Ten win of the season when it visits Penn State today. It will be the Cats’ fourth game in eight days.

With legs potentially tired from the first three of those matches, the Cats will be counting on their depth against the Nittany Lions (4-8), Uchida included.

“We have a lot of players that can help us at a lot of different positions, and that’s really helped our depth this year,” Uchida said. “And that’s made us a much better team.”

williamcarey2012@u.northwestern.edu

Comments