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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Field Hockey: Bent-Cole the hero in No. 1 Northwestern’s 1-0 double overtime win against No. 8 Maryland to capture Big Ten Tournament title

Daily file photo by Micah Sandy
Freshman forward Olivia Bent-Cole dribbles the ball. Bent-Cole scored the winning goal in double overtime to clinch the Big Ten Tournament title for Northwestern.

It was freshman forward Olivia Bent-Cole’s moment.

Deep into the second overtime period in No. 1 Northwestern’s Big Ten Tournament title game clash against No. 8 Maryland, Bent-Cole restarted play. She charged at a Maryland defender, cutting outside before tip-toeing down the endline. She took one dribble to her left and rifled a low, close range tomahawk shot past Terrapin goalkeeper Alyssa Klebasko.

Her strike clanked off the backboard as the referee’s whistle signaled the conclusion of Sunday’s end-to-end display in Ann Arbor.

Celebration commenced as Bent-Cole’s teammates dogpiled her in front of goal.  

Bent-Cole’s overtime game-winner clinched the Wildcats’ first conference tournament championship since 2014 and the program’s first-ever sweep of the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.

“They are just so resilient,” coach Tracey Fuchs said of her team. “Our corner was really off today and they just kept playing hard and playing for each other and nobody was pointing fingers or blaming. They just kept going at it (and I’m) happy we found the back of the net.”

Sunday’s game was a particularly one-sided offensive affair, with NU outshooting Maryland 22-8, including 11-5 on goal. The ’Cats also won 17 penalty corners to the Terrapins’ three but were unable to generate any scores from the chances in the circle. 

Ten days removed from a 5-1 shellacking of Maryland to cap off a perfect Big Ten regular season campaign, Fuchs said she thought NU dominated in Sunday’s game even more than it did on Oct. 26. She said she was proud of the number of corners the ’Cats drew against an opponent of the Terrapins’ caliber, but that their execution needed to be better. 

“We weren’t putting (the ball) on the mark to get quality stops and they were switching up their corner defense,” Fuchs said. “They played with two post players on some of our corners — which was a great respect to us — but really it was more that we were off.”

NU maintained its offensive pressure throughout the game, while Fuchs’ defense — which has conceded the fewest goals (10) in the country this season — remained an impenetrable fortress. Senior goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz tallied five saves to record her 12th shutout of the season. 

Toward the end of regulation, and as she had done for much of the game, Bent-Cole cut through several Terrapin defenders and laid the ball off to senior midfielder Chloe Relford in front of the cage. Relford was unable to get her stick on Bent-Cole’s pass, as the ’Cats and Terrapins ended the first four quarters without a score.

After 17 more minutes of scoreless hockey, Bent-Cole’s solo goal was the decider in Sunday’s tightly contested game. 

With a pair of Big Ten trophies in hand, NU now turns its focus to the NCAA Tournament.

“(It’s) officially season four,” Fuchs said. “We’re excited and we are 100% sure we’re going to be hosting at home … we’re really excited about that. There’s nothing like playing on your home fields and having fans there and everything that goes along with the comforts of home.”

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Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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Field Hockey: No. 1 Northwestern marches on, knocks off No. 11 Ohio State 3-1 in Big Ten Tournament semis

Field Hockey: Fuchs wins Big Ten Coach of the Year, Northwestern earns seven all-conference selections

Field Hockey: No. 1 Northwestern secures outright Big Ten title with 5-1 rout of No. 7 Maryland

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