Field Hockey: No. 3 Northwestern defeats No. 6 Rutgers to advance to Big Ten Tournament semifinals


Daily file photo by Kelsey Carroll

Sophomore midfielder Alia Marshall gets in position to defend Northwestern’s cage. Marshall was a key player in shutting down all seven of Rutgers’ corner attempts in the Big Ten Quarterfinals.

Skye Swann, Assistant Sports Editor

Field Hockey

No. 3 Northwestern defeated No. 6 Rutgers 2-1 Wednesday to advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. 

“We just needed to come out today, start strong, and we did,” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “(Rutgers) is a great team and they tied it up, but we just kept playing.”

Following two upsets from the Scarlet Knights (9-6, 5-4 Big Ten) in the regular season, coach Tracey Fuchs said the team “played great hockey” on Wednesday to end the losing streak. 

NU’s offense came out with high intensity. The Cats penetrated the defensive zone to earn  three corners, and the last one was the lucky charm. Redshirt senior forward/midfielder Lakin Barry tipped the ball into the cage to give NU a 1-0 lead. 

The Cats slowed down in the next fifteen minutes, taking only one shot in comparison to the four from the previous quarter. The Scarlet Knights capitalized and freshman forward Bridy Molyneaux soon tied the game at one.

NU opened up the second half with a goal from redshirt sophomore Bente Baekers, giving the Cats the 2-1 lead they’d keep for the rest of the game. The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week scored her reverse shot — and fifth goal in four games — off Rutgers senior goalie Gianna Glatz. 

The Cats’ defense was put to the test when freshman midfielder Katie Jones sat out with a green card, giving the Scarlet Knights a man-up opportunity. But freshman goalie Annabel Skubisz rose to the occasion, blocking the Scarlet’s Knights three corner attempts. 

“Our corner defense was amazing today,” Fuchs said. “That was the difference in the game.”

Skubisz stepped up by totalling three saves and blocking all seven penalty corner attempts. Fuchs said the Houston native has gained “a lot of experience” this season filling in for injured senior goalie Florien Marcussen.

Sophomore midfielder Alia Marshall was another critical player to the Cats’ strong defensive performance. She held the tight box formation in each of the Scarlet Knights’ seven corners to clear the ball outside of the arc around the cage.

Marshall said the backline felt the pressure in the second half, but stuck to their game.

“We knew that if we had the ball then (Rutgers) couldn’t score,” Marshall said. “On defense we wanted to keep marking tightly and keep good pressure on the ball.”

NU will face seventh seed Ohio State Thursday night in the semifinals of the tournament. To increase their chances of victory, Fuchs said the Cats need to capitalize on the scoring zone, especially since Rutgers outshot them 10-6 on Wednesday. 

Despite sweeping the Buckeyes 2-0 in the regular season, Fuchs said the team has “its work cut out for them” with Ohio State Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Mackenzie Allessie, adding that she thinks Thursday’s game will be a good matchup.

“We just have to go out and play our game,” Fuchs said of the semifinal matchup. “We didn’t have a great second half so we just want to improve every game.”

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