Field Hockey: Northwestern knocks down No. 1 Iowa and concludes regular season with shutout win over Indiana


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Sophomore midfielder Maddie Zimmer celebrates after a wicked reverse backhand shot on the Indiana goalkeeper. Zimmer scored two goals in the Wildcats’ shutout win against Indiana.

Skye Swann, Assistant Sports Editor

With eight minutes remaining in No. 6 Northwestern’s road contest against No. 1 Iowa, the Wildcats’ offense needed to act fast. Iowa forward Ciara Smith had just scored, tying the game at 1-1.

Junior midfielder Ana Medina Garcia was up to the task. She scored the game-winning goal at the 56th minute mark and handed No.1 Iowa their first loss of the season.

“We were really excited for the opportunity to play that game, (with Iowa) being undefeated and the top team in the country,” junior defender Alia Marshall said. “Being able to beat them in regular time was really awesome.”

Coach Tracey Fuchs said the victory was monumental for the Wildcats, setting themselves up for the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA tournament.

“It’s a big weekend,” Fuchs said. “Iowa was huge. Typically, when you play a big game like that, you’re exhausted mentally and physically, so to come back and play a really improved Indiana team today and come out with a 6-0 victory — I’m really happy with our group.”

NU (14-4, 5-3 Big Ten) defeated the Hawkeyes (16-1, 7-1) with a score of 2-1 Friday, in a hard-fought defensive battle. The Cats’ win over Iowa was the program’s first victory on the road against a No.1 ranked opponent. Alongside Medina Garcia, Marshall tallied a goal in the contest.

Marshall said against a strong, undefeated Iowa team, Friday’s win was exhilarating for NU. When the Cats’ 2020 postseason run ended in May at the hands of the Hawkeyes, she said the team wanted retribution. With the match set in Iowa City, Iowa, Marshall said she knew it was a perfect chance to give the Hawkeyes a taste of their own medicine.

Despite the hard-charging Hawkeyes unit’s attempts to break into their defensive zone, NU brought intensity on the field. Outshot by Iowa 10-7, the Cats spent a majority of the second and third period on defense, following Marshall’s goal in the first quarter.

After a lengthy back-and-forth between the two teams, the Hawkeyes finally evened the score in the fourth period, lighting a match under NU’s offense to finish the game strong.

And the Cats switched gears immediately. The group earned a penalty corner only four minutes after Iowa scored to give them another opportunity at Iowa’s goalkeeper Grace McGuire. Although McGuire blocked redshirt junior forward Bente Baeker’s shot, Medina Garcia got the rebound, tipping the ball right past McGuire for the 2-1 lead.

According to Marshall, Friday’s win was great momentum to fuel the Cats for their Senior Day matchup against Indiana (10-9, 2-6) at Lakeside Field on Sunday. She said the victory gave the girls even more incentive to finish the weekend strong, celebrate the highly talented senior class and earn one more regular season win.

“It’s a big weekend,” Fuchs said. “Iowa was huge. Typically, when you play a big game like that, you’re exhausted mentally and physically so, to come back and play a really improved Indiana team today and come out with a 6-0 victory, I’m really happy with our group.”

Straight from the whistle, NU played aggressively, maintaining possession and controlling the pace of the game. Sophomore midfielder Maddie Zimmer had a standout performance, scoring two goals in the match. Baekers, graduate student Clara Roth, and senior forward Casey Joye racked up goals to give the team a 6-0 shutout win over Indiana.

Only a sophomore, Zimmer has held her own the entire season, becoming a key asset to the Cats in the midfield. Fuchs called her a world class hockey player and felt proud of her growth this season.

“She’s really starting to put the pieces together of when to pass, when to shoot and when to take people on,” Fuchs said. “If she keeps improving at this rate, the world is her limit.”

With the regular season finished, NU sets its sights on a successful postseason run, starting next week in Piscataway, N.J. at the Big Ten Tournament. The Cats will have a second chance at No. 4 Michigan, surrendering a double overtime loss on Oct. 8, in the quarterfinals on Nov. 4.


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