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Field Hockey: Wildcats capture program’s first Big Ten Tournament title

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Field Hockey: Wildcats capture program’s first Big Ten Tournament title

Northwestern players celebrate with their trophy after defeating Maryland to win the Big Ten Tournament. Sophomore Isabel Flens scored the go-ahead goal for Northwestern, and senior goalkeeper Maddy Carpenter was named tournament MVP.

Northwestern players celebrate with their trophy after defeating Maryland to win the Big Ten Tournament. Sophomore Isabel Flens scored the go-ahead goal for Northwestern, and senior goalkeeper Maddy Carpenter was named tournament MVP.

Mike Marut/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern players celebrate with their trophy after defeating Maryland to win the Big Ten Tournament. Sophomore Isabel Flens scored the go-ahead goal for Northwestern, and senior goalkeeper Maddy Carpenter was named tournament MVP.

Mike Marut/Daily Senior Staffer

Mike Marut/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern players celebrate with their trophy after defeating Maryland to win the Big Ten Tournament. Sophomore Isabel Flens scored the go-ahead goal for Northwestern, and senior goalkeeper Maddy Carpenter was named tournament MVP.

Mike Marut, Reporter

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ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Northwestern toppled top-seed Maryland 3-1 in the Big Ten Tournament championship Sunday to claim its first ever Big Ten Tournament title.

Senior goalkeeper Maddy Carpenter was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

“It feels incredible, not so much the MVP, but the win,” Carpenter said. “It was an incredible game, everyone played well on every line. I’m incredibly proud to be taking this team to the NCAAs. It was a hard-fought battle, every single person had a part in the win today.”

The Terrapins started out strong offensively, keeping the pressure on the Wildcats’ defense through the first 10 minutes of the contest. A shot on goal by senior Kelsey Thompson got the NU attack started, but the team could not keep it consistent until midway through the first half. The Cats put the pressure on starting at the 20-minute mark and never let up.

“We weren’t nervous at all, kind of had nothing to lose in a way,” sophomore Dominique Masters said. “We were so excited to have a chance to beat them again, and we knew it was going to be a tough game, not a walk-over. We wanted to get the butterflies out early and get some plays through.”

With a green card issued to Maryland’s Maxine Fluharty, NU had a chance to convert while the Terrapins were undermanned. The Cats ended up not needing the card, as a minute after Maryland returned to full strength, junior Lisa McCarthy scored off a penalty corner with help from junior Charlotte Martin.

“When I scored the goal, I felt like I was in the right place at the right time, pretty lucky,” McCarthy said. “I just got my head down and put it in. You don’t have time to really celebrate it because it was early on in the game, because you have to get your head down and focus and not get ahead of ourselves.”

The Terrapins responded almost immediately with a penalty corner goal of their own with 8:25 left in the first half.

After swapping goals, NU had two consecutive penalty corner opportunities but could not capitalize on either, with Maryland knocking them away and marching down the field after the second. The NU defense held into halftime with the score tied 1-1.

“(Making stops) is easy when I’ve got Maddy backing me up,” McCarthy said. “We’ve had an overall team defense the whole year, our people tackling back the whole time, our press worked really well today and we put them under pressure.”

In the second half, the Terrapins applied pressure early but, like the Cats in the beginning of the game, could not maintain it consistently, missing two shots wide left of the goal. NU started out with plenty of pressure, keeping the ball within Maryland territory for many of the opening minutes. Two consecutive corners proved unfruitful, but a third consecutive corner put the Cats on top with sophomore Isabel Flens netting the ball.

After reviewing an official ruling, Maryland lined up for a penalty corner with 21:19 remaining in regulation but could not convert. The Terrapins earned a second penalty corner 54 seconds later, but could not score on the second try. The NU defense stifled Maryland and held off numerous attacks throughout the game.

With defensive support, the Cats offense turned up the heat and forced the Terrapins to play more defense, outshooting Maryland at one point 14 to 5. The numerous shots paid off for NU with a goal by the Cats’ scoring leader, Masters, to put away the game, 3-1.

To get to this point, NU had to beat storied conference foe, Michigan. Earlier in the season, the Cats fell to the Wolverines 2-1, but came away with a 2-1, overtime win on Friday. The final goal had to be reviewed by the officials before NU could finally celebrate making it to the Big Ten Title game for the first time under coach Tracey Fuchs.

After the championship, NU could finally take a short moment to celebrate their accomplishments before thinking about their 2014 NCAA Tournament bid.

Carpenter’s eyes began to well up with pride for her team. Fuchs vocalized the same sentiments towards her Cats teams.

“Relentless has been our word the whole season,” Fuchs said. “First time we won a first round game, first time we’re in a final, but these kids … they don’t budge; they’re relentless. They play together. I was so proud to get in this game, that win or lose, I was going to be really happy with our group, and now I’m even happier.”

Email: michaelmarut2016@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @Mikeonthemic93

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