Field Hockey: No. 3 Northwestern fell in overtime to No. 7 Ohio State in Big Ten Semifinals

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Daily file photo by Kelsey Carroll

Senior defender Christen Conley passes the ball across the field. She was a key player in Northwestern’s corner defense in the Big Ten Semifinals against Ohio State.

Skye Swann, Assistant Sports Editor


Field Hockey


No. 3 Northwestern lost to No. 7 Ohio State 2-1 in overtime Thursday, ending their quest for a Big Ten championship.

“(The loss) stinks,” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “We didn’t have the best first half, but we came back and really played strong.”

The Wildcats (11-5, 5-3 Big Ten) played the Buckeyes (7-8, 2-5 Big Ten) twice in the regular season and won both games in overtime. This time around, Fuchs said the team had “their work cut out for them.”

The Buckeyes came ready for revenge. Outshot by Ohio State 11-7, NU’s defensive zone was put to the test early in the game when the Buckeyes earned a corner in the first 15 minutes.

“We had a tough first half, (Ohio State) was definitely down on our throats,” senior defender Christen Conley said.

Ohio State sophomore midfielder and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Mackenzie Allessie led the way for the Buckeyes, coordinating six corner attempts and scoring the game tying goal.

But freshman goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz stepped up to the challenge, racking up six saves. Conley and junior defender Kayla Blas supported the Houston native, playing a critical role protecting NU’s cage.

“Christen and Kayla have been two of the most consistent players I’ve had in the program,” Fuchs said. “They held us all season so I can’t say enough about them.”

The Cats’ offense started slower than usual, but picked up by the end of the first quarter. freshman midfielder Maddie Zimmer helped lead the team to some back-to-back corners. But the Cats’ play rapidly slowed down in the next 15 minutes of the second quarter, leading to the Buckeyes taking four shots.

NU opened the second half strong on their defensive end, blocking Ohio State junior midfielder Emma Goldean’s corner. To make matters more difficult, the Cats were a man down after freshman midfielder Katie Jones received a green card in the 38th minute.

With only ten players on the field, the Cats held their own against another Buckeyes corner attempt until Jones came back into play. Following a Skubisz save, sophomore midfielder Ana Medina Garcia dribbled the ball down for a fastbreak opportunity on the offensive end of the field.

She then found redshirt sophomore Bente Baekers, who scored a reverse shot goal to lift the Cats to a late 1-0 lead. With 12 goals on the season, the score was her seventh consecutive goal in the past six games.

However, the Buckeyes responded with a goal of their own from Allessie to tie the game at one in the 47th minute. With the end of regulation fast approaching, the Cats kept possession of the ball in their offensive circle for two unsuccessful penalty corner attempts. Soon, NU was a man down when Zimmer sat out with a green card.

Zimmer, who was recently named The Big Ten Freshman of the Year, played a huge part of the Cats’ midfield line. She slowed down Ohio State’s fast transition, limiting their offensive opportunities late in the game.

With the game still tied after 60 minutes, NU entered its third overtime against the Buckeyes this season. The key difference was that the team started a man down, due to Medina Garcia being issued a yellow card in the fourth quarter.

Ohio State junior forward Tess Maloney quickly seized on the advantage, scoring the game winning goal to advance the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Championship Game. With only three at-large bids to the NCAA tournament, the question of whether the Cats’ postseason will continue remains up in the air.

“We’re hoping we’re gonna sneak in (the NCAA tournament),” Fuchs said. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed because these guys have worked so hard to put ourselves in this position.”

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