Field Hockey: Retzky returns to take down the Spartans

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Chelsea Sherlock/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior midfielder Julia Retzky is back in action for the Wildcats this weekend against Michigan State. After suffering a facial injury, the Lake Forest, Ill., native will be vital in Northwestern’s corner attack and defense.

Mike Marut, Reporter

Julia Retzky returns from a facial injury this week as Northwestern prepares to take on Michigan State on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich.

Last time senior midfielder Retzky took the field was back in early October against Kent State. The Wildcats defeated the Golden Flash with ease, winning the game 3-1. Usually when athletes come back from injury, they are not quite the same, frequently worse than before the injury. Retzky believes the opposite to be true.

“I don’t think it will affect my play at all,” Retzky said. “Having last weekend off, I was able to rest my body, rest my legs, so I feel a lot more energized than I was. I think I’ll come back stronger, actually.”

In Retzky’s absence, the Cats fell to then-No. 17 Louisville 2-0. It was only the second time this season the Cats have been shut out. The two goals came from penalty corners, which coach Tracey Fuchs vowed to work on this week to prepare for the Spartans. Having Retzky back in the mix will be a big help against corner play this weekend.

“Jules is our leader under the radar,” Fuchs said. “She’s a big part of our corner attack and corner defense, and that’s where 40 to 60 percent of goals are scored. We’re really happy to have her back.”

Last season against the green and white, the teams played to the last second. Michigan State pulled its goalkeeper with a few minutes left in the second half in order to give itself a stronger attack and to try and send the game to overtime. Two saves by goalkeeper Maddy Carpenter and a defensive save by Retzky as time expired preserved the slim 2-1 victory for the Cats.

“It means nothing,” Fuchs said. “If you asked (the team), they probably wouldn’t remember that as much as other things. Saying that, everybody knows both teams are going to fight for seventy minutes. We just need to keep playing and doing the things we’re doing because we’re playing really well.”

More rides on this game than meets the eye. This match means life or death for each team’s hopes of reaching the Big Ten Championship. Both the Cats and Spartans have racked up three conference wins and only one loss. NU claims the better overall record, though, with 12-4, as Michigan State is even at 8-8.

“They’re playing as good as they’ve played all season and we’re coming off a really good weekend ourselves,” Fuchs said. “Right now the winner of this game has a chance still to win the Big Ten Championship. Both teams are going to be hungry, and it’s just going to be a great game.”

NU will take on a very aggressive team when it plays Michigan State. The Spartans are tied for second-most goals scored in conference games with 13. The Cats rank fourth in that category with 10. Carpenter, a junior, will have her work cut out for her this weekend.

“Michigan State is always a really good rivalry,” Carpenter said. “Their Big Ten record is really good. They’re a hard team. They play hard. They play for a full 70 minutes. I think we’re ready. They’ve got a really good offensive line, which I’m excited about. I’m excited to be tested.”

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