Field Hockey: Round two against Big Ten newcomers


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Midfielder Dominique Masters brings the ball up the field. After a strong freshman campaign, the sophomore has had five goals and two assists so far this year.

Mike Marut, Reporter

No. 13 Northwestern (6-3, 1-0 Big Ten) has another chance to take out fresh conference competition this weekend against Rutgers University (4-3, 0-1) as well as storied opponent No. 17 Indiana University (7-0, 0-0).

The first round of new Big Ten competition went well for the Wildcats who took down then-No. 2 Maryland 3-2. The second round will prove to be just as formidable as NU takes on Rutgers. Despite not being ranked in the top 20 teams by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association, the NCAA ranks the Scarlet Knights at No. 17 and the Cats rank 14.

“Rutgers … they’re good,” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “They’re hanging right around 20 in the (NCAA rankings) right now. It’s going to be a good matchup. We just need to keep getting better and execute our corners. We’re really excited for the game.”

This will be the first time ever the two field hockey squads face off. Rutgers, in its first Big Ten game, fell to Iowa at home 3-0. The Hawkeyes were then ranked in the top-10 in the NFHCA polls. Despite being blanked against Iowa, the Scarlet Knights still present challenges for NU.

“They’re similar to us,” Fuchs said. “It doesn’t appear they have a superstar, but they’re solid along their midfield and backfield. Their penalty corner attack is pretty dangerous. They do a lot of low pushes, low drag flicks and high drag flicks, so it’s something we’ve been working on since we haven’t seen a lot of that this fall. Hopefully we’re going to stop them outside the circle and not give up many penalty corners, and we’ll be in good shape.”

Rutgers’ scoring is well spread out, with three players leading the team with 4 goals apiece. Assists primarily come from two of those scorers, Sofia Walia and Katie Champion. The Scarlet Knights also have five players whose shots are in the double digits. To combat the team, Fuchs has been giving tips in practice on how to stop the attack.

“We’re going to press them just as hard as Maryland,” senior goalie Maddy Carpenter said. “Big Ten games are huge. We want to be Big Ten champs again. We can’t have any faults there, so I think it’s going to be a real mental game for us.”

On Sunday, the Cats take on the Hoosiers. Two years ago, Indiana knocked off NU in the Big Ten tournament. After beating the Hoosiers last year but being eliminated early from the Big Ten tournament, the Cats are looking to score quickly and often.

“They’re on a roll,” Fuchs said. “We both have Friday games, so it’s an even playing field. Playing two top 20 teams is exciting. We’re playing on our home field, and typically we play quite well here.”

But the Cats still need to stay calm, cool and collected.

“Indiana beat us two years ago in the Big Ten tournament,” junior Kelley Stump said. “It’s always nice when we can get them back for that, but we’re going to stay calm and focused.”

This past week, both Stump and Carpenter earned Big Ten honors, Stump with Offensive Player of the Week and Carpenter with the defensive equivalent. Stump contributed primetime goals in the win over Maryland and Carpenter made eight saves, but neither could take all the credit themselves.

“The eight saves were enough for (the Big Ten) to say, ‘Hey you deserve this’,” Carpenter said. “At the same time, I had so much help from my defense. Kelsey Gradwohl had an incredible post save. The amount of effort is no different than every week. Things just kind of fell in order for us.”

Stump credited her teammates as well.

“Working with the team, they’re amazing,” Stump said. “We help each other get better every day. The award is just a nice bonus for working hard every day. It’s nice to see all that hard work pay off, but I wouldn’t be there without my teammates. All of those goals were a result of great team play.”

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