Field Hockey: Northwestern felled by Iowa in overtime, extends losing streak to 3


Jonathan Dai/The Daily Northwestern

Dominique Masters fires a pass. The senior midfielder had a shot on goal as Northwestern struggled to finish its chances in an overtime loss to No. 16 Iowa on Friday.

Cole Paxton, Assistant Sports Editor

Field Hockey

A lot can change in a week.

After recently suffering their first 0-2 weekend since 2011, the No. 9 Wildcats (10-5, 4-2 Big Ten) failed to rebound, falling 2-1 in overtime to No. 16 Iowa (10-6, 2-4) on Friday. The loss gave NU its first three-game losing streak in five years and its first home defeat of the season.

“It was a good Big Ten battle,” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “We had more than enough chances to win the game … but we just need to play more loose.”

After eight straight wins in September and early October, including key victories over then-No. 4 Penn State and then-No. 6 Maryland, pushed NU to the top of the Big Ten and as high as No. 6 in the country, the Cats have slipped significantly. NU’s first conference loss came last Friday at Indiana, which entered the match 0-5 against ranked teams. The subsequent losses to then-No. 8 Louisville and Iowa will likely push the Cats out of the top 10.

NU’s offense, among the national leaders in several categories until recently, struggled again. The Cats’ only goal against the Hawkeyes came midway through the first half, when junior midfielder Elena Curley redirected senior midfielder Isabel Flens’ shot after a miscue on a penalty corner sequence.

After that point, the offense looked much as it did against Indiana a week earlier: It generated several quality scoring opportunities but failed to convert any of them. NU had only six shots on goal and five penalty corners but still generated a few excellent chances, including a Flens breakaway late in the first half and a pair of close-range shots from a corner just before the end of regulation.

“It’s always really frustrating,” Flens said of missed opportunities. “All game we had some good chances, and we have to build from that, hoping next week … we get a little more luck.”

Earlier in the week, Fuchs pinpointed corner execution both offensively and defensively as areas in need of improvement following last week’s losses. The Cats did well on that front offensively, converting on one of five opportunities, but continued to struggle defensively.

NU did hold Iowa to only five corners, but the Hawkeyes took full advantage, scoring both of their goals directly from corners.

“The main thing we tried to focus on was composure and getting it out of our circle,” junior back Sophia Miller said. “In general we did a good job, but they took advantage of their chances, and they executed them well, unfortunately.”

Though the Cats lost the game and have been stumbling on the scoresheet, Fuchs said they are not playing poorly. With a big conference matchup with No. 12 Michigan looming next week, Fuchs is hoping for incremental improvement, not wholesale changes.

“I hope it festers a little bit so that we can really come out and play a strong game (against Michigan), but we’re right there,” Fuchs said. “We’re a young team, still growing, and we just need to keep getting better.”

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