Field Hockey: Wildcats shellac Rutgers, Drexel in weekend road wins


Daily file photo by Jacob Morgan

A Northwestern player fires a pass. The No. 6 Wildcats played well offensively in two weekend wins, scoring a combined 12 goals.

Cole Paxton, Assistant Sports Editor

Field Hockey

Last weekend, Northwestern was the underdog, the team with little to lose. This weekend, it was the favorite, with a target on its back — but the results were the same.

A week after upsetting two top-10 teams and vaulting to No. 6 in the country, the Wildcats (10-2, 4-0 Big Ten) continued their winning ways with a 5-3 win at conference foe Rutgers (6-4, 1-2) on Friday and a 7-2 blowout of Drexel (6-6, 1-0 Colonial) on Sunday in Philadelphia. With the wins, NU extended its winning streak to eight games.

Living up to their lofty national ranking, the Cats dominated on the scoreboard. NU scored in the opening five minutes against the Scarlet Knights and led 3-0 at halftime. On Sunday, senior midfielder Isabel Flens completed a hat trick in the first nine minutes and the Cats built a 7-0 lead midway through the second half.

But despite the convincing score lines, Coach Tracey Fuchs said her team had somewhat of an inconsistent weekend.

“We struggled a little bit on Friday, but we were really good on our corner execution,” Fuchs said. “(Sunday) we started strong and played a nice game throughout the whole 70 minutes.”

Neither game was as close as the scoreline indicated. NU led Rutgers 5-1 before a pair of goals in the last 10 minutes made the score more respectable, and Drexel was shut out until the final two minutes.

Senior midfielder Dominique Masters said the Cats’ strong team play presents serious challenges for opposing teams.

“When we’re passing and giving it to each other it kind of makes it more unexpected when we’re coming at the defense,” Masters said.

NU’s winning formula was largely unchanged from recent games. The team took excellent advantage of its offensive chances — scoring five goals on six shots on frame Friday — and scored early and often. Flens’ three goals Sunday came in a stretch of just 6:07.

The defensive unit was also characteristically strong. The back line held Rutgers and Drexel to a combined 12 shots on goal and allowed just five penalty corners over the two games, and NU goaltenders combined to make seven total saves.

In contrast to recent games, however, the Cats’ brightest stars put up big offensive numbers. Masters scored twice Friday, and Flens, who had scored just one goal over the last four games, tallied five goals over the two games.

“She hasn’t been on the scoresheet, but she’s been playing great,” Fuchs said of Flens. “She’s been playing really consistent, leading the team, making things happen.”

Bigger tests, including a non-conference game at No. 7 Louisville and a home Big Ten showdown against No. 9 Michigan, are still to come. Nonetheless, the squad has been adamant that it respects every team on the schedule and has stressed its desire to finish the conference season undefeated.

This weekend’s wins likely won’t move NU up in the national rankings or garner much national attention. Flens, however, was still impressed with the Cats’ overall performance.

“It’s always nice to get two wins in a weekend away. It’s always tough; sometimes you struggle a little bit against teams that are not ranked in the top 10,” Flens said. “We did a good job … of playing our game.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ckpaxton