Northwestern field hockey loses 2 at home to PSU, MSU

Joshua Walfish

Even with their impassioned style of play over the weekend, Northwestern just couldn’t quite seal the deal against its highly touted competition.

NU (11-8, 3-3 Big Ten) lost both of their weekend matchups with top-15 teams, falling to No. 9 Penn State (13-4, 4-2) 4-2 on Friday and No. 11 Michigan State (14-4, 3-3) 3-2 on Sunday.

Sunday’s matchup with Michigan State, Senior Day for NU’s eight seniors, saw some late-game heartbreak for the Wildcats. They seemingly tied the game at 3-3 with about five minutes left when sophomore midfielder Chelsea Armstrong hit a rocket of a shot over MSU goalie Molly Cassidy off a penalty corner and into the goal.

However, after a brief conference between the officials, the goal was disallowed as they ruled that the ball went too high for an initial shot off a penalty corner. This all took place just two minutes after the Spartans had taken the lead.

“It really breaks up the momentum we were gaining,” Armstrong said. “We had pulled the keeper with the aim to get a corner and eventually a goal, and we almost did that.”

The game got off to a quick start as the Spartans jumped on the board seven minutes into the contest with a strike from midfielder Sabine van den Assem off a penalty corner. NU tried to respond, but Cassidy stopped a plethora of chances.

“Their goalie played excellent today, ” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “She played by far one of her best games this season.”

Cassidy stopped all eight of the first-half shots she faced including a couple of key stick saves on Armstrong and a kick save on junior forward Regan Mooney.

The second half started with a bang for the Cats as Armstrong tied it up a minute in, off a rebound in front of the goal.

Twelve minutes later, the Cats took the lead off a goal from Mooney, who was left alone in front of the goal. The ball miraculously found Mooney’s stick, and she deked past Cassidy to put NU up 2-1.

After a Michigan State timeout immediately following the goal, the momentum started to shift the Spartans’ way. After a couple of kick saves by sophomore goalie Amanda Wirth, Michigan State tied the game when Joelle van Ierland put home a loose ball off a penalty corner with 11 minutes remaining.

The Spartans were not done, though, as Jantine Steinmetz got a breakaway with seven minutes to go and chipped the ball over Wirth’s shoulder into the top of the net to give Michigan State a 3-2 lead. Fuchs called timeout and pulled Wirth for an extra attacker, but the Cats were unable to muster up any opportunities aside from Armstrong’s disallowed shot.

On Friday, NU died by the same sword they slayed Iowa with on Oct. 24 – penalty corners. Kelsey Amy scored four goals off penalty corners including three within a span of eight minutes to propel the Nittany Lions.

Amy’s third goal came with five minutes to play in the first half. The Cats did salvage some momentum coming into the break when senior defender Zoe Almquist deflected an Armstrong pass into the goal with under a minute to play in that half.

“The momentum really switched with that goal,” Fuchs said. “We just made small adjustments during halftime, putting (senior defender Sarah Marcincin) and Chelsea into the midfield.”

NU continued with this momentum into the second half as junior midfielder Kaylee Pohlmeyer slammed home a goal after Mooney deflected the ball toward her three minutes into the second half.

With NU about to call a timeout and pull Wirth for the extra man, Amy struck again and put the Nittany Lions up 4-2 with seven minutes to play. However, the fight in the Cats did not stop as Armstrong found Pohlmeyer in front of the goal minutes later, but she fanned on the shot.

The Cats, seeded fifth for the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, hit the field on Thursday next for the opening-round game against the fourth-seeded Spartans. The tournament is being held at Lakeside Field this season, the first time since 2004.

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