Field Hockey: Northwestern takes down Michigan State and Maryland in opening weekend matchups


Courtesy of Northwestern Athletics

Alia Marshall jumps in celebration after a goal. The Wildcats defeated Michigan State and Maryland to start the season 2-0.

Gabriela Carroll, Web Editor

Field Hockey

Northwestern field hockey took down Michigan State 3-1 and Maryland 2-1 in its opening weekend, giving a 2-0 start to the season.

In both games, the Wildcats (2-0) fell behind early, allowing the first goal in the first quarter. But, NU rallied back, reclaiming the lead in the second half and keeping it.

Against the Spartans, the Cats maintained possession on their offensive end for most of the game, but they quickly surrendered a goal on Michigan State’s first charge up the field..

NU struck next, with a goal from sophomore midfielder Peyton Halsey. Halsey scored three goals in the two matchups, including both gamewinners. With those numbers, Halsey has already tied her goal scoring output from her 2019 freshman season.

Halsey’s first goal against the Spartans came off a straight shot from the top of the arc, while her second was an elevated shot from the middle of the zone. Against Maryland, Halsey scored off a reverse hit from the left side of the zone.

“She has a really quick release on her shot,” coach Tracey Fuchs said of Halsey. “We’re so balanced that everyone is getting opportunities, but she really put some home this weekend.”

Freshman midfielder Maddie Zimmer scored the third goal against Michigan State, the first of her NU career. Senior forward Mackenzie Keegan scored the tying goal against the Terrapins less than a minute into the second half.

The Terrapins dominated most of the first quarter offensively against the Cats, drawing seven penalty corners in that quarter alone, scoring on one of them. NU struggled to transition the ball up the field and make any headway with an excellent Maryland defense.

After the first quarter, the Cats locked down defensively. NU’s offense found a way to get into their zone, and their defenders fed the ball back up with transition stops. Senior defender Christen Conley, often the Cats’ last line of defense, led the charge and the Terrapins took just four shots in the final three quarters.

“We struggled a bit in the first quarter,” Fuchs said. “We gave up a lot of corners, but our defensive corner team played really well today. And then we snapped out of it when we started to play better in the second quarter.”

In goal against Maryland on Sunday was freshman Annabel Skubisz, making her first start for NU. Senior goalie Florien Marcussen experienced a lower body injury in Saturday’s game against Michigan State, Fuchs said.

Skubisz allowed just one goal, and made five saves facing 11 shots, some of which were deflected by the Cats’ defenders.

“We had a first year in goal today who really kept us in the game,” Fuchs said. “The first quarter could have been a way different outcome. She stepped in and really stepped up for us today.”

After months off the field, the Cats were excited to finally put what they had been practicing together. Fuchs said that due to the snow, NU practiced on a gym floor in the basement of Ryan Fieldhous with a different type of ball, so she wasn’t sure what to expect when they took the field Saturday.

The victory against the Terrapins is NU’s first since 2017. Maryland was last year’s Big Ten regular season champion, and is a frequent conference and national title contender. The Cats may not have started strong in the game, but the win makes for a strong start to the season.

“We’ve been working on so many tactics inside, and it’s just not the same,” Halsey said. “To put it all together on the field really makes a difference…. We know we have strengths all over the field. We can attack the outside and inside, and just play together and stay composed. We could be really dangerous.”

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