Field Hockey: Northwestern upset by Ohio State


Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Maren Seidel dives to reach the ball. The freshman forward played 58 minutes against Ohio State.

Greg Svirnovskiy, Reporter

Field Hockey

It was a game with massive implications. At risk, a home seed in the Big Ten tournament. There was no question the stakes were high for No. 12 Northwestern’s battle with No. 25 Ohio State. And there was reason for optimism. Hosting a team with a sub .500 conference record, the pieces looked in place for the Wildcats.

But they didn’t come together.

“We just didn’t take it to them today,” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “Hats off to them, but disappointed in our performance for sure.”

NU (8-6, 3-2 Big Ten) lost 2-1 to Ohio State (7-6, 3-3) on Friday afternoon, despite a goal from senior midfielder Puck Pentenga and assists from sophomore midfielder Christen Conley and junior defender Kristen Mansfield.

“We definitely had some chances,” Fuchs said. “We definitely should have had one that was a gimme that we didn’t. Sometimes they just don’t fall. I know we’ll be ready to come back Monday and get ready for next week’s weekend series.”

NU struggled out of the gate, taking two shots compared to the Buckeyes’ three in the opening 35-minute frame. Both teams had chances, but neither could find the back of the net. For the Cats, the biggest opportunity came when Pentenga’s shot off of a penalty corner was deflected in front of the goal in the middle of the period. The Buckeyes’ biggest first half chance came in the closing minutes, when freshman Sina Schwinn’s ranging run from midfield resulted in a scramble in front of goal.

After the half, offense came flowing in full force. Ohio State, which is yet to lose a game this season by more than one goal, struck first in the game’s 44th minute. Senior Kelsey Nolan’s movement deep in NU territory created space on the left for Genevieve Penzone to slap home her first of the year.

Fuchs said the Buckeyes’ scrappy play helped them take down the Cats despite their lack of star talent.

“They played a great game,” Fuchs said. “They may not have many superstars but they played as a team today and were fortunate enough to get the win.”

NU roared back just under two minutes later, as Pentenga’s shot from just inside the shooting circle reached the back of the net to tie the game at one. After Conley collected Mansfield’s pass from the penalty corner, she slipped the ball to Pentegna who ripped home her ninth goal of the season.

While Pentenga has been a fixture for the Cats on penalty corners, Fuchs said the team needs to find ways to score that don’t involve the penalty spot.

“We’ve been scoring most of our corners through her even if she doesn’t get the ball,” Fuchs said. “We didn’t come out with the right energy or work ethic today. Corners are great, we needed to generate more and we’ll work on that next week.”

Esther Clotet’s late second half strike put the Buckeyes ahead for good just as it seemed the Cats were growing into the game. Clotet, who scored her sixth goal of the year, slapped the ball into the Northwestern net off of a penalty corner, one of three such opportunities the Buckeyes had all game.

Pentenga said the Cats came out with renewed energy in the second half. But it began to wear off.

“I think we started off well but we just had to get going,” Pentegna said. “I think the energy went down in the second part of the first half and that’s when they scored on us.”

Despite NU’s recent struggles against ranked teams, Pentenga added she’s confident in their ability to succeed against top competition.

“We’ve struggled against top-20 teams before,” Pentegna said. “We really need to just get down, prepare, get ready, and show that we’re better than them. Next weekend is a really good opportunity to do that.”

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