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

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

The Daily Northwestern

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Rapid Recap: No. 2 Northwestern 2, No. 3 Duke 1

Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal
Freshman forward Olivia Bent-Cole dribbles the ball. Bent-Cole assisted the game-winning goal in Northwestern’s 2-1 NCAA Tournament semifinals victory over Duke Friday.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Seeking a 21st consecutive victory and a berth in its third consecutive national championship appearance, No. 2 Northwestern traveled south to the Tar Heel State to face No. 3 Duke in the NCAA Tournament semifinals. 

When the pair of teams met in early September, the Wildcats engineered a three-goal comeback to topple the Blue Devils 3-2 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Some two months later, Duke and NU prepared for a rematch on Tobacco Road in just the second-ever meeting between the two programs in the NCAA Tournament.

The Blue Devils drew the first penalty corner of the game, but midfielder Alaina McVeigh’s shot was blocked. The ‘Cats nabbed a pair of penalty corner chances in quick succession, though Duke goalkeeper Piper Hampsch parried away the ensuing shots from freshman back Ilse Tromp and senior midfielder Lauren Wadas. 

NU found its breakthrough early in the second quarter from the team’s penalty corner stalwart in Tromp. Off the insert from graduate student midfielder Alia Marshall, Tromp’s shot squeezed by Hampsch’s outstretched arms for the game’s opening tally. The Dutch international’s goal marks her eighth score in nine games. 

The ‘Cats maintained the bulk of offensive pressure in the first half, outshooting the Blue Devils 12-2 across the opening two quarters. 

Out of the intermission, Duke was quick to find an equalizer, with forward Hannah Miller getting her stick down to deflect a pass from back Megan Maransky past senior goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz.

Following the Blue Devils score, NU once again jumped on the attacking front foot, with several passes across the face of goal threatening the Duke backline. 

In the final frame, the Cardiac ‘Cats lived up to their billing once again. Freshman forward Olivia Bent-Cole stole a pass near midfield and charged at the Blue Devils’ defense. Occupying the attention of a pair of Duke defenders, Bent-Cole slid a pass to junior midfielder Regan Cornelius, who rifled a shot into the backboard to hand Fuchs and company a 2-1 advantage — and the win.

Here are three takeaways from NU’s win over the Blue Devils:

1. Two of the nation’s best defenses spar at Karen Shelton Stadium

The ‘Cats and Blue Devils entered Friday’s matinee boasting two of the NCAA’s premier backlines. NU’s defense has surrendered a mere 0.57 goals per game — a mark which ranks first in the country — while Duke ranks third, allowing just 0.96 goals per contest. 

Senior goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz, who owns a program-record 13 shutouts this season, was untested in the first 30 minutes of play, with the Blue Devils managing just two shots. But against the run of play, Maransky’s deflection elevated beyond the sliding reach of Skubisz.

The ‘Cats held strong over the final quarter, even as Duke added an extra attacker to the field. NU ultimately allowed just four total shots and two shots on goal in Friday’s contest. 

2. NU wins penalty corner battle

As they have for much of the season, the ‘Cats once again drew a bevy of penalty corners, but they were unable to consistently convert in the circle.

NU earned seven corners in the first half, but only Tromp’s second quarter effort found the back of the cage. Fuchs’ defense, which put on another stingy display, conceded just one penalty corner Friday. 

On the team’s lone penalty corner of the third frame, ‘Cats midfielder Lane Herbert’s shot was palmed away by Hampsch — one of six saves on the day for the Duke goaltender. 

Corner chances were once again present in the fourth quarter for NU, but the ‘Cats could not find the back of the cage — even with Hampsch pulled from the game.

3. The ‘Cats secure title game rematch with the Tar Heels

Fuchs and NU will have a chance to exact revenge on UNC in Sunday’s national title game. 

The ‘Cats and Tar Heels met in last season’s national championship game, with former UNC coach Karen Shelton capping off her legendary career with a 2-1 win over Fuchs and company.

In front of a likely sea of Carolina blue and white at Karen Shelton Stadium, NU will look to secure the program’s second national title and hang another banner at Lakeside Field. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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