Field Hockey: Northwestern sweeps Big Ten openers at home


Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Freshman Isabel Flens scored the winning shot in overtime against Iowa on Friday and continued her attack Sunday, scoring half the points in Northwestern’s 4-1 win over Michigan. Along with fellow freshman Dominique Masters, the midfielders combined for six of the Wildcats’ eight points this weekend in Evanston.

Josh Walfish, Reporter

The weekend belonged to the Wildcats’ freshman class.

No. 12 Northwestern got major contributions from its youngest players, defeating two Big Ten foes to kick off the conference slate. It is the second consecutive year the Cats won their first two conference games of the season.

“For us to come out and play two dominating games statistically and across all lines … I’m really happy,” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “But we still need to get better each and every day.”

NU’s weekend began with a battle against No. 14 Iowa on Friday. All 4 goals in the 4-3 overtime victory came from freshmen, with midfielder Dominique Masters recording a hat trick in regulation and forward Isabel Flens ending the game with a strike nine minutes into overtime.

Flens’ weekend was just heating up as the freshman from the Netherlands scored twice in Sunday’s game, dominating 4-1 over No. 19 Michigan. Fuchs said she was surprised by how quickly Flens became comfortable on the field.

“Usually it takes freshmen a good few months to take it to the next level,” Fuchs said. “She’s the fittest on our team, she’s got really handy skills, she’s got such great hand-eye coordination and she can find the back of the net. I’m really happy with her play this weekend.”

Friday’s matchup with the Hawkeyes seemed to be fairly routine for the Cats, who scored twice in the first 16 minutes of playoff penalty corners. NU took the 2-goal lead into the break, but Iowa scored three times in a 10-minute span in the middle of the second half to charge back and take a 1-point advantage. However, the Cats found a way to equalize as Masters scored for the third time that day to send the game into overtime.

In the extra session NU stormed the Iowa net, outshooting the Hawkeyes 4-0 in the first half of overtime. Junior Maddy Carpenter stopped Iowa’s first shot of the frame, and the outlet pass to senior Tara Puffenberger gave her a 2-on-1 up the field. The midfielder made a deft pass to Flens and, after the original shot was denied by Kelsey Boyce, Flens flipped the ball over Boyce to give the Cats the victory.

Sophomore midfielder Caroline Troncelliti said NU was very happy to get such an emotionally charged win, but the team understood its work wasn’t yet complete that weekend.

“It was great to have that revenge,” Troncelliti said. “But we knew we had to forget about it Saturday, work really hard in practice and get ready for Michigan.”

NU dominated Sunday’s contest from the opening whistle, peppering Michigan’s goal with 16 shots and forcing Wolverines’ goalie Haley Jones to make 10 saves. Troncelliti and Flens connected twice for goals, the first of which gave NU the lead at halftime. The second goal iced the game for the Cats as Troncelliti stayed calm with Jones charging her on two-person breakaway and slid a pass to Flens, who deposited it into the cage.

Flens said the team learned a valuable lesson this weekend about how talented they are and where their limit is.

“We’re great fighters and we’re a great team together,” Flens said. “The atmosphere is really good. We need to stay a good team, and we can go far this year.”

The Cats began 4-0 in conference play last season before stumbling in overtime to Iowa and getting blitzed 4-0 by Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament. The losses ended NU’s hopes of getting back to the postseason. Fuchs said those memories are what makes the team so dangerous moving forward.

“I know this team won’t sit back,” Fuchs said. “Everyone knows what Indiana did to us last year, but this team won’t let down because of our memories from last year, and that’s a really good thing for the coach.”

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