Field Hockey: Northwestern clinches win against Michigan in double overtime thriller


Elisa Huang/The Daily Northwestern

Senior midfielder Alia Marshall fights for the ball against a Michigan player. Marshall drew a penalty corner that set up Lauren Wadas for a game-winning shot.

Kate Walter, Assistant Sports Editor

In the 79th minute of a scoreless match against No. 6 Michigan (9-5, 4-3 Big Ten), junior midfielder Lauren Wadas readied herself at the stroke line after senior midfielder Alia Marshall drew a penalty corner. Wadas masterfully sunk her shot, winning the game for No. 3 Northwestern (13-3, 4-3 Big Ten) and drawing roars from a home crowd at Lakeside Field.

“It was just smiles all around, like super exciting,” Wadas said of her game-winning goal. “It took all 25 of us to win that game and I’m glad that I was able to put it away, but again…I have to give all the credit to my teammates.”

The top-ten matchup on the Wildcats’ Senior Day was a competitive battle between two teams that stack right next to each other in Big Ten standings.

Both teams were unable to put anything in the cage over back-and-forth competition across four quarters and first overtime. With three missed shots, junior midfielder Maddie Zimmer’s attempts to put the Cats on the board in the first two quarters were foiled. Michigan missed five shots in the second quarter.

Coach Tracey Fuchs credited her team’s defense for fending off the Wolverines’ attempts.

“I thought we held them in check today,” Fuchs said. “Anytime you can keep their best players off the scoreboard is a great day.”

Locked in a stalemate at the end of regulation, the game headed into overtime. A penalty corner by Marshall gave fifth-year forward Bente Baekers a chance to finish things for the Cats at the end of first overtime, but her shot was blocked. Fifth-year back Kayla Blas stepped up to the line next, shooting just high of the goal.

Junior goalie Annabel Skubisz’s six saves, including two critical saves in double overtime, kept NU in the game. Marshall’s penalty corner in the ninth minute of double overtime gave Wadas her moment, scoring her third goal of the season in dramatic fashion. 

Blas, whose assists positioned Marshall for a penalty corner and Wadas for the shot, said the highly ranked battle was more of a physical game than anything. 

“It just came down to who was more scrappy in the circle,” Blas said. 

The Cats have had their fair share of overtime play recently. Before Friday’s match, three of their last five games ended in overtime, with NU beating Ohio State in the first overtime last week with a goal from senior midfielder Ana Medina Garcia.

Wadas said the Cats have learned important lessons from these overtime games.

“A big thing is just keeping possession,” Wadas said. “All six of us are going to move forward and attack, and all six of us are going to defend.” 

NU also honored its seniors with a walkoff win in their last home game of the regular season.

Fuchs said she is proud of the class that helped the Cats achieve both their first No. 1 national ranking and national championship in program history.

“It’s an amazing class… It starts with Kayla (Blas),” Fuchs said. “She’s been our general, our field general, and just the workhorse of the team.”

The 2021 national champions will face Indiana and Miami (Ohio) in their last matches of the regular season, before moving on to the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.

Though neither the Hoosiers nor the RedHawks are ranked, Fuchs said NU cannot take its opponents lightly ahead of the postseason.

“We need to make sure we’re ready and do the same preparation for Indiana and Miami to set ourselves up to finish in the highest we can in the Big Ten,” Fuchs said. “There’s still a lot on the line and we want to keep getting better for NCAAs.”

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Twitter: @katewalter03

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