Field Hockey: Northwestern falls in the Big Ten semifinals to Iowa, but makes the NCAA tournament


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Senior midfielder Lily Katzman pushes the ball out of the defensive zone and into midfield.

Gabriela Carroll, Reporter

Field Hockey

The auditorium at Walter Athletic Center was abuzz with nervous anticipation.

After losing a 2-1 heartbreaker to Iowa in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Saturday, Northwestern anxiously awaited Sunday’s NCAA tournament selection show to see whether they would move on to the final leg of the postseason.

The Wildcats (14-7, 5-3 Big Ten) didn’t have to wait very long to hear their names called. NU was among the four teams in the second regional bracket, and it will face Boston College in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday.

“After the tournament, we were obviously upset, because we wanted to win a trophy and bring that back to Evanston,” senior midfielder Lily Katzman said. “We knew as a team to keep our heads up because we knew it wasn’t over. We stayed confident and we realized we’re still in this, we knew we did the work in season and that it was going to pay off, so we just kept our heads held high, and held our breath too.”

Saturday’s loss left the Cats’ status in the NCAA tournament in jeopardy. Because the Big Ten Tournament winner is an automatic national qualifier, the team needed Iowa to come away with the Big Ten title to leave room for an extra at-large bid.

Penn State, the other tournament finalist, had an 8-12 record, unlikely to make the tournament without winning the championship, while the No. 7 ranked Hawkeyes were set to make it regardless. Had the Nittany Lions stolen a bid, NU would have faced longer odds as a team on the bubble.

NU faltered Saturday because of a weak second quarter — the team allowed six shots and both Hawkeye goals. The Cats had four shots in the first quarter, with sophomore midfielder Maren Seidel scoring on a penalty corner inside the game’s first two minutes. In the remaining three quarters, they took only three shots.

“I wanted to be really disappointed after the game, but we played really hard,” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “We had a bad spell in the (second) quarter, but we bounced back and were all over them in the fourth quarter.”

The contest looked eerily similar to NU’s earlier matchup against Iowa where the Cats scored first to gain some early momentum, but then faded away later in the game and allowed two consecutive Hawkeye goals.

In the NCAA tournament, NU will need to continue its success on penalty corners as 21 of their 64 goals this season have come from their corners.

For now, the Cats can take a moment to celebrate their achievements before the NCAA tournament, Fuchs said.

“I don’t want to say it’s the icing on the cake, because we’re here to win championships and we’d love to get to Wake Forest,” Fuchs said. “But for now, we’re going to celebrate it, and go on and get ready for the match.”

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