Field Hockey: No. 5 Northwestern falls to unranked Maine in one of their “poorest performances” of the season


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Midfielders Peyton Halsey and Shannon Daley reach for the ball. Both players started the game against Maine on Sunday.

Gabriela Carroll, Reporter

After a devastating overtime loss to No. 4 Maryland on October 3, No. 5 Northwestern had an opportunity to reset. It looked like their game against Maine (3-7, 1-0 America East), who, up to this point, had only won two games, would be the perfect opportunity.

Instead, the Wildcats took another step back.

In their third consecutive overtime game, NU (10-4, 3-1 Big Ten) dropped its second straight by a score of 4-3 to the Black Bears (3-7, 1-0 America East). Despite taking four more shots on goal than Maine, and having five more penalty corner opportunities, the Cats could never quite find a way to pull away.

“This was one of our poorest performances,” head coach Tracey Fuchs said. “We just couldn’t do the simple things well.”

Senior midfielder Saar de Breij felt the team was not proactive enough, allowing Maine to set the tone of the game.

“In the first half, we were trying to do too much fancy stuff, passing through the legs, doing reverses,” de Breij said. “We should have just played simpler and smarter.”

Maine allowed three goals on Sunday, but they still played a strong game defensively; two out of the three goals they allowed were on corner plays. De Breij said that the Black Bears were very strong tacklers, and NU’s attempts at showier moves were thwarted by their strong defensive front.

After the Cats scored each of their first two goals, Maine scored within two minutes afterward, which left NU on their back legs, continuously trying to claw back as opposed to pushing through to take the lead.

“We managed to tie the game, and they scored right after, and then we had to start all over, which is frustrating,” de Breij said. “Then it happened again, and again. They kept having the momentum.”

Two games ago, the Cats were riding high on an eight-game win streak, with all of their ambitions for the season still right in front of them. Maine is not a conference team, and NU still has the talent and the opportunity to compete for and win the Big Ten title, but the loss is jarring and confusing.

In order to continue to compete at a high level, the Cats need to get back to both the level of play they maintained during that win streak, as well as that mindset. Earlier in the season, Fuchs and her players alike praised the mindset and togetherness of this team, which de Breij said she did not feel was present against Maine.

“We just have to sit down with each other, and look at ourselves, not pointing fingers at each other, but looking at ourselves first,” de Breij said. “We have to try to get the ‘good team’ mentality back, which was one of our strengths before this game. We had a bunch of great wins because we were so strong as a team, and today on the field it felt more like individuals than a whole team.”

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