Rapid Recap: Northwestern 2, Harvard 1 (OT)


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern attempts a shot. The Wildcats won their first OT game of the season to go to the national championship.

Skye Swann, Assistant Sports Editor

Seeking its first championship appearance, Northwestern defeated Harvard Friday to 2-1 of the NCAA tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. Goals off corners from Maren Seidel and Bente Baekers lifted the Wildcats to the sport’s biggest stage.

As soon as regulation commenced, the Wildcats and Harvard were racing, playing with lethal speed as both competitors fought for possession of the ball. NU’s offense seized the upperhand, grabbing the ball and earning a corner minutes into the first quarter. Although unsuccessful, the Cats kept up the pressure inside the circle, forcing the Crimson’s No.1 rated defense to make adjustments.

However, NU’s offense powered through these changes, allowing senior midfielder Maren Seidel to score the first goal of the contest. With a one goal advantage, the Cats tried to reiterate their strategy, but Harvard denied the attempt taking the possession to their end of the field.

Within a couple minutes, Crimson senior defender Hannah Pearce responded to NU’s lone goal, evening both squads at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was back and forth between both teams, highlighting the intensity on the field.

At the 26th minute, redshirt junior forward Bente Baekers received a penalty stroke opportunity following a Harvard follow inside the circle. But, Baekers was denied by the Crimson’s goalkeeper—a thing that rarely happens to her.

After halftime, the Cats were put to the test in the third quarter, playing a man down for most of the fifteen minutes following a yellow card issued to senior forward Liese Warenham. Aside from the woman-down obstacle, NU rose to the occasion, fending Harvard from scoring any goals.

In the last fifteen minutes, the Cats struggled to connect inside the circle, allowing Harvard to take possession of the ball. And yet, NU’s backline remained solid, not letting any of the Crimson’s stealthy attackers get a corner.

With ten minutes remaining, NU took control of the match, earning their second corner of the game, hoping to take the lead. But, the Cats were unsuccessful and they were unable to capitalize on the offensive rebound.

And with both teams not letting either take the upperhand, NU and Harvard headed into sudden victory overtime.

Two minutes into the extra period, Baekers scored on a penalty corner to claim victory for Northwestern. The Cats will next play against Liberty on Sunday with a national title on the line.


1. Harvard’s defense lives up to its reputation
Harvard’s defense was impressive throughout the entire matchup, pushing NU to play more aggressive and quicker inside the circle. The Crimson lead Division I Field Hockey in shutouts per game, and the squad proved it during Friday’s matchup. Every chance the Cats had on the offensive end of the field, Harvard made it extremely difficult, leading NU to make sloppy mistakes and turn the ball over.

2. Northwestern has opportunities, but struggles with shooting accuracy
Outshooting the Crimson throughout the contest, the Cats’ ability to take shots was not an issue at any moment in regulation. However, NU struggled to deliver and connect all the dots to secure a goal. This issue has plagued the Cats’ offense for the majority of the 2021 fall season. And in this match, NU had multiple shot attempts at the cage, but either went wide or missed the goal by small margins. Meanwhile, Harvard’s impressive defense, including five saves from the Crimson goalkeeper, made it harder each time, limiting the Cats to only three corners in regulation.

3. Northwestern’s defense kept the Wildcats in the game
The Wildcats’ backline was the main reason the squad kept Harvard scoreless since the first quarter. From tip off, NU’s defenders kept immense pressure on the Crimson forwards, forcing them to make sloppy mistakes inside the circle and turn over the ball. Despite the fast paced play from Harvard, the Cats did not fold to the pressure, rising to the challenge and remaining a force on the field. This advantage kept NU in the game, giving their offensive side more time to take shots.

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