Field Hockey: After two losses, Northwestern looks to return to winning ways


Daily file photo by Jacob Morgan

Sophia Miller evades a defender. The junior back and No. 9 Northwestern will look to bounce back from two defeats last weekend.

Cole Paxton, Assistant Sports Editor

Field Hockey

Last weekend, Northwestern did something it hasn’t done much this season: lose. This weekend, the Wildcats are seeking to return to what they’ve done often: win.

After consecutive losses dropped them in the national rankings, No. 9 NU (10-4, 4-1 Big Ten) hopes to regain its winning form Friday when it returns home to face No. 16 Iowa (9-5, 1-3) in a game that could have significant implications in the Big Ten title race.

“It’s really important that we have a good match Friday,” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “The game’s going to be a battle. It’s probably going to be a one-goal game for most of the game.”

The Cats could not capitalize on their opportunities against Indiana on Friday and ran into an excellent Louisville team on Sunday. NU stagnated offensively, scoring only one goal over the two games and totaling just four shots against the Cardinals.

Instead of panicking or sulking, the Cats say they returned to practice this week focused on making minor adjustments, such as on penalty corners, which NU struggled to convert last weekend.

“Tracey gave us a nice day off to recuperate from the road trip,” junior midfielder Elena Curley said. “We focused on what we can improve on from our two losses and are really looking forward to Iowa.”

The Cats have long said their goal is to win at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title. With the conference season more than half over, NU is in good shape to do just that, as it sits in a tie atop the standings with No. 6 Maryland and No. 5 Penn State at 4-1.

A win over the Hawkeyes would put the Cats in control of their own destiny ahead of next Friday’s showdown with No. 12 Michigan.

“We’re working on trying to be a little quicker with our decision making,” Fuchs said. “We know every game in the Big Ten is just going to be a battle. … We’ll be ready.”

Against Iowa, the Cats will see a squad that has struggled in conference play but remains among the top teams in the country. The Hawkeyes are 0-4 against current top-10 teams but recently won at Indiana and have scored 16 goals in their last two games.
NU will also be challenged by forward Natalie Cafone, whom Fuchs called “one of the best players in the country.” The senior missed last season due to injury, but was a first-team All-American two seasons ago and has already scored 15 goals this year.

When the two regional rivals hit the field, there will be few surprises.

“We’ve played them a bunch in the past, in the spring. We had a scrimmage with them, so we know how they play,” senior goaltender Lindsay von der Luft said. “We know that they’re a fast team, and they have good players.”

Following four straight games on the road and just two home matches in the last month, the Cats are excited to settle in for a stretch at home. After playing on several unfamiliar fields and staying in hotels, NU hopes to take advantage of facilities and conditions it knows well.

“It’s going to be nice,” Curley said. “We need to get the Big Ten win at home. It’s so much better when we’re on our home turf, and we have our fans behind us.”

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