Field Hockey: Northwestern sets their sights on sweep over No.19 Ohio State and Michigan State


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Sophomore midfielder Maddie Zimmer sends the ball inside the circle. Zimmer will be a crucial player for Northwestern this weekend.

Skye Swann, Assistant Sports Editor

Following a 6-1 win over Ball State, Northwestern sets their sights back on conference matchups, with a Big Ten weekend slate featuring No. 19 Ohio State and Michigan State at Lakeside Field.

Senior midfielder Kayla Blas said the convincing team win was great for morale following a double overtime loss to No. 2 Michigan, adding that the team took away skills they can improve upon for the Buckeyes and Spartans. 

“We’re really excited to get back home,” Blas said. “We’re excited to get back to some Big Ten Games and make a statement in the Big Ten that we’re here and we want it just as much as anyone else.”

The Wildcats (10-4, 1-3 Big Ten) will square off against Ohio State (7-5, 1-2) on Lakeside Field Friday for the first time this season. This past spring, NU beat the Buckeyes in overtime twice. Redshirt junior forward Bente Baekers and junior midfielder Ana Medina Garcia were two of the lead scorers in those faceoffs, and will be two valuable players this weekend. 

Coach Tracey Fuchs said the team will have to be prepared for the Buckeyes, stressing the importance of consistency on the field. She added the Cats will focus on sticking to their game and moving the ball fast. 

“This is going to be a battle,” Fuchs said. “(Ohio State) is stingy when it comes to shots so we need to play three-touch hockey and take it from the start.”

NU’s high-powered offensive playmakers will be valuable chess pieces for Friday’s battle as they hold off Ohio State’s stealth attack, specifically Baekers and graduate student forward Clara Roth. The two are first and second on the team with 13 and 8 goals, respectively. 

The Cats will have to shift gears quickly after the Buckeyes, preparing for the feisty Spartans. NU met Michigan State (7-3, 0-3) in the beginning of the 2020 season in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and were victorious.

Although the Cats came out with a win, Blas said the group will still have to play their hardest on the field because it’s been a while since NU’s last encounter with the Spartans. She said the defensive presence on corners will be something the Cats will work on during the Buckeyes game and this upcoming week.

“Everyone had so much energy on the field,” Blas said. “It makes everyone else want it even more and to go harder.”

After losing to Michigan, Blas said the team realized they need to be faster with tackling and keeping possession. She said the Wolverines were a fast-paced team, and the Cats came out of the match seeing a need to improve in that area of their game. But she praised NU’s ability to fight until the very end, emphasizing the squad’s motto of pushing everyone to play hard until the final whistle.

As the Cats head into their last leg of the regular season, these upcoming matches will be crucial for earning a high seed in the Big Ten Tournament and clinching a berth into the NCAA tournament.

Fuchs said the last week of games was not NU’s best performance, expressing discontent with their shooting accuracy in their past conference games. She reiterated these next games will be rematches for the Cats to show their technique and dominance on the field.

“We have a lot of offensive power so we just need to score and get goals,” Fuchs said. “(Ball State’s) win and these games will help us get back on track.”

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