Field Hockey: No. 10 Northwestern loses 2-1 in heartbreaker to No. 8 Iowa


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Midfielder Saar de Breij runs down the field. The senior scored Northwestern’s only goal against Iowa.

Gabriela Carroll, Reporter

Field Hockey

Northwestern played a great game. It just wasn’t enough.

No. 8 Iowa defeated the No. 10 Wildcats on Saturday 2-1 in an even matchup dominated by the midfield play. Now, NU (12-6, 4-3 Big Ten) finds itself in fourth place in the Big Ten standings and faces an uphill battle to reach the NCAA tournament.

The Cats took a 1-0 lead in the first quarter. Freshman forward Bente Baekers evaded the Hawkeye defense to create a two-on-one opportunity. She passed the ball in from outside to senior midfielder Saar de Breij, who hit it in from the center of the circle for her eighth goal of the season. The goal was the team’s only shot in the period.

But the Hawkeyes (12-4, 6-1) came out strong in the second half and scored in the third quarter to tie the game. They subsequently took the lead in the fourth off a transition pass deflection.

NU did not take a single shot in the second half.

“We certainly had our chances,” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “They’re a good defensive team. We just need to get the ball in the circle more and really be scrappy. That was the difference today — they were a little bit more scrappy in the circle.”

The Cats looked like the better team for much of the first half. NU scored first and controlled the pace of the game, something they struggled with in early losses. But as the match progressed, Iowa gradually began to chip away, buoyed by three green cards that left the Cats playing shorthanded. By the end of the game, NU played almost exclusively on its defensive end.

The Big Ten regular season title is out of reach for the Cats. They have played a tough schedule and are 7-4 against ranked opponents — but they are now 1-4 against teams ranked in the top 10. That one win was against Michigan, who was No. 9 at the time — on Sept. 29.

NU struggled after its loss to Maryland on Oct. 3 to regain its team mindset, which was the start of a three-game losing streak. But with the Big Ten Tournament only two weeks away, the Cats can’t afford to slip back into that state.

Despite the loss, Fuchs said NU matched up well with Iowa. She praised the Cats’ defense, which allowed only nine shots to an Iowa team that averages almost 18 per game.

Senior defender Kirsten Mansfield said the way the team played at the end of Saturday’s game makes her confident they can have success going forward.

“In the fourth quarter, knowing we were down, we pulled the goalie (and) we still kept fighting and fighting,” Mansfield said. “It didn’t work out, but we definitely didn’t give up. It was good to see that we didn’t let up and that we kept putting pressure on and trying to get something in.”

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