Field Hockey: Deep Northwestern team seeks to replace stars


Daily file photo by Jacob Morgan

Sophia Miller works around an opposing player. The senior defender is expected to lead the Wildcats this season.

Cole Paxton, Web Editor

Field Hockey

No. 14 Northwestern enters the 2017 season with a plethora of returning talent but must fill the shoes of two historically accomplished scorers, leaving it uncertain whether the Wildcats can avoid the NCAA Tournament near-misses that have caused heartbreak each of the last two seasons.

Gone are Isabel Flens, a technically savvy midfielder who earned second-team All-America honors in 2016 and ended her career fourth on NU’s all-time scoring chart, and Dominique Masters, a relentless and versatile forward who matched Flens at fourth all-time with 52 goals.

The Cats must also replace goaltender Lindsay von der Luft, a solid if unspectacular two-year starter.

NU returns nearly everyone else, however, including 13-goal scorer Pascale Massey and defensive leader Sophia Miller, who, in their senior seasons, are the most obvious candidates to replace the void in leadership. Massey in particular could become a major scoring force, as she is now fully recovered from serious injuries that cost her much of two seasons.

Miller, who assumed leadership duties along the back line last season, was rewarded for her efforts with first team All-Big Ten honors. Massey and Miller were named to the Big Ten’s players to watch list, as was senior midfielder Elena Curley.

The Cats return as many as four more regular starters from last year, and coach Tracey Fuchs brings in a highly-touted recruiting class. Still, NU begins its season without any true stars, and that could make life difficult for the Cats in a rigorous Big Ten.

NU will have plenty of opportunities to notch resume-boosting wins — like an opening weekend back-to-back against No. 13 Stanford and No. 4 Connecticut that begins Saturday — but it remains to be seen whether the Cats have enough firepower to stay with the nation’s elite.

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