Field Hockey: Northwestern splits the weekend with stunning overtime win against Penn State, overtime loss to Maryland


Esther Lim/The Daily Northwestern

Junior goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz makes a save. Skubisz played a crucial role in lifting the Wildcats to victory against the Nittany Lions Friday.

Skye Swann, Assistant Gameday Editor

Field Hockey

In a weekend of contested conference battles, Northwestern was put to the test at Lakeside Field. Competing in back-to-back overtime games, the squad faced arguably its toughest competition to date. 

The Wildcats (10-2, 1-2 Big Ten) stunned No. 6 Penn State Friday in a high octane 5-4 overtime win, but fell short in their overtime game Sunday to No. 4 Maryland. Led by graduate forward Bente Baekers and senior midfielder Peyton Halsey, the team scored six goals over the two days of play. Halsey set a new season record Friday after scoring her first hat trick against the Nittany Lions.

“We just had really good energy, warming up and getting prepared for the game,” Halsey said. “We all trust each other and we work really hard.”

NU struggled to find its momentum at the start of the match Friday, with Penn State’s quick pace in transition allowing the Nittany Lions to grab the upper hand in the eighth minute. But by the second quarter, Baekers put NU back into the game, grabbing a quick goal off of an assist from sophomore midfielder Lane Herbert. 

From there, the Cats kept up with the opposition, trading goal for goal in the third and fourth quarters. Halsey found her own groove scoring all three of the squad’s remaining goals.  

Closing out the first overtime, Baekers drew a penalty stroke with seven seconds remaining and gave NU an opportunity to send Penn State home. Halsey went to the stroke line and sent the ball to the back of the cage ending the game and stunning the Nittany Lions. 

Heading into Sunday, the Cats aimed to repeat the victory against conference rival Maryland. The Cats and the Terrapins have a longstanding record of thrilling games, typically ending in an overtime finish. NU’s matchup with Maryland followed the trend, going into overtime after a 1-1 tie for most of regulation. 

But the Cats couldn’t repeat the same victorious outcome two days later, falling to the Terrapins 2-1 in overtime. Baekers scored the lone goal for the group in the third minute of the game. 

“We weren’t on our game (on Sunday),” coach Tracey Fuchs said. “We had way too many unforced errors.”

Although NU received its second loss of the season, the players said they cannot dwell on the past losses and need to keep pushing forward. Only dipping their toes into conference play, the Cats will be facing the rest of the Big Ten in the upcoming weeks, including longtime foes Rutgers and Michigan. 

With the Big Ten Tournament a month away, every game increases in intensity. NU will be heading on the road for the next three games to battle No. 23 Rutgers, Michigan State and Ohio State. 

The Cats look to get back in the win column against the Scarlet Knights this weekend. The group’s growth on the offense and the rise of new players proves NU can make another serious run in the postseason.

“We still have a ton of work to do,” Fuchs said. “We’re really close to being a really great team, but we got to show up every day and put that on the field.”

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