Field Hockey: Northwestern looks to avenge trio of losses to Michigan


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Annie Kalfas directs her defenders. The junior goaltender said the Wildcats will have last year’s losses to Michigan on their minds when they play the Wolverines on Friday.

Jonah Dylan, Managing Editor

Field Hockey

At the end of the 2017 regular season, Northwestern headed to Ann Arbor with the Big Ten regular season title on the line.

The Wildcats lost, 1-0.

NU then won its next two games, setting up a showdown with Michigan in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.

The Cats lost, 2-0.

NU still earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, and took down Louisville in the Round of 16. The win set up a third matchup with the Wolverines.

The Cats lost 3-0.

So No. 10 NU (7-4, 2-0 Big Ten) will certainly have a lot to play for when it heads to Ann Arbor for a matchup with No. 6 Michigan (6-4, 2-1) on Friday. The match will be part of a weekend road trip that will also include a visit to East Lansing to take on Michigan State.

Junior goaltender Annie Kalfas said last year’s losses are on the Cats’ mind as they head into the weekend.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that we really want to beat Michigan,” she said. “Three losses last year was a hard blow to us, but they’re a different team this year, we’re a different team this year, and I think we definitely really want this win. We’re gonna have a lot of fire.”

NU is coming off two wins over ranked teams. The Cats took down No. 13 Iowa and No. 25 California, both by final scores of 2-0, at Lakeside Field last weekend. NU subsequently swept the Big Ten weekly awards, as Kalfas won goalkeeper of the week honors and freshman forward Maren Seidel won both offensive player and freshmen of the week plaudits.

Seidel said she’s looking forward to the weekend.

“Just because I was the freshman of the week this week doesn’t mean that I can relax now,” she said. “I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to playing and can’t wait to beat Michigan.”

Against the Wolverines, NU will have to contend with talented forward Emma Way, who leads the Big Ten in goals and points. Michigan is coming off a weekend that included a win over then-No. 6 Penn State and a loss to No. 3 Maryland.

The Spartans (4-7, 0-3) have dropped four of their last five, including a 8-0 drubbing against the Nittany Lions.

Coach Tracey Fuchs said she was happy with her team’s performance last weekend. One thing she wants the Cats to work on is their penalty corner execution, she said.

“We’re honing in on our corner execution, both on attack and defense,” she said. “It’s where 75 percent of goals are scored. Our corner defense has gotten better each and every week and our corner attack was good early, and then it had, we were struggling a little bit and then we got it back on track this year.”

Though Michigan lost a number of players from their Final Four team a year ago, including starting goaltender Sam Swenson and Big Ten Player of the Year Katie Trombetta, Fuchs said the Wolverines are still a formidable opponent.

“Anytime Northwestern plays Michigan, it’s gonna be a battle and you’ve got to fight till the very end if you want to win it,” Fuchs said. “And I think we have as good a chance as any.”

Peter Warren contributed reporting.

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