Field Hockey: Cats earn home split against Michigan schools


Daily file photo by Joyce Lee

Isabel Flens holds off a defender. The senior midfielder scored twice in Northwestern’s 5-0 win over Massachusetts on Sunday.

Cole Paxton, Reporter

Field Hockey

While it was a weekend of mixed results for the Wildcats, they head into this week on a positive note.

After falling 4-3 in double overtime Friday to No. 14 Michigan (12-3, 5-1 Big Ten), No. 16 Northwestern (10-6, 3-3) rebounded with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Michigan State (5-11, 2-5) on Sunday.

The Cats had far more opportunities than their opponents in both games but failed to capitalize on 17 shots on goal Friday. Michigan, meanwhile, scored on four of their six attempts on frame. On Sunday, however, NU was utterly dominant, outshooting the Spartans 25-1 and earning 19 penalty corners.

“We’ve been playing well for the whole Big Ten season, so it was so nice to finally get a really solid win,” coach Tracey Fuchs said after Sunday’s game. “Again I can’t ask more from these guys. They’re playing their hearts out.”

NU was aggressive from the outset Sunday but, like Friday, struggled to convert chances into goals. Despite nine shots and eight penalty corners in the first half, the Cats entered the half without a goal against Michigan State.

That quickly changed in the second half, however, as junior midfielder Dominique Masters scored from a penalty corner less than three minutes into the period. Fellow junior midfielder Isabel Flens added NU’s second goal less than nine minutes later, also via a corner, closing a frenetic stretch of play in which the Cats earned four penalty corners and had numerous opportunities to add to their lead. Freshman forward Eva van Agt added the final goal late in the match.

“We had so many chances and we really felt confident that we were finally getting those shots off that we’ve been struggling with the past couple of weeks,” Flens said. “Once we get the first one (goal) the others will come after that.”

NU’s offensive performance Sunday was eerily reminiscent of Friday’s. The Cats peppered Michigan goalkeeper Sam Swenson with shot after shot but saw numerous opportunities go by the wayside.

Senior midfielder Caroline Troncelliti beat Swenson early on, however, scoring from a corner just over a minute into the match. NU grabbed a pair of second-half goals in quick succession, with Troncelliti and van Agt beating Swenson in a two-minute span.

The difference in the two games was the Cats’ defensive performance. Although Michigan was lethal on its opportunities, NU simply didn’t give the Spartans any chances.

Michigan midfielders Katie Trombetta and Veerle Lubbers scored in a span of 30 seconds midway through the first half, and forward Shannon Scavelli knotted the score at 3 late in the second half. Back Lauren Thomas scored the winner in the second sudden-death overtime session.

“We put enough on the board,” Fuchs said following Friday’s game. “We just needed to stop some on the defensive end.”

Michigan State, on the other hand, did not record a penalty corner and its lone shot on goal came in the game’s final minutes. Further, the Spartans rarely got the ball into the Cats’ defensive circle and only occasionally had extended periods of possession.

“We’ve been working a lot on defense all over the field, from the forwards to the backs, everyone doing what they need to do to make sure we keep it in our circle,” senior back Lisa McCarthy said Sunday. “It was really good to come out and see our dividends paid today with the work we’ve put in.”

Sunday’s win was an important rebound for NU, McCarthy said, particularly as the Big Ten Tournament approaches in three weeks. To make the NCAA Tournament, Fuchs said the Cats will almost certainly need to win the conference tournament, which will require playing three games in four days.

“We have a lot to prove as a team,” McCarthy said. “There’s definitely greatness and resilience in the team, and it shows in our performances.”

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