Northwestern’s women’s soccer and field hockey teams advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament last weekend. Both teams won in highly dramatic fashion, scoring late goals that booked their place into the next round. Everyone was getting in on the Cardiac Cats theme this weekend.
You can’t count out Northwestern field hockey. With Northwestern down 3-2 to Rutgers with less than four minutes left, Puck Pentenga equalized off a well-executed penalty corner. Northwestern wasn’t interested in overtime, however, and Pascale Massey scored another goal with 1:49 left to put Northwestern up 4-3. Northwestern advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament and will play conference champions Michigan on Friday.
While No. 10 Northwestern should be safe for NCAA Tournament qualification, the Wildcats essentially guaranteed it with their fourteenth win of the year. Northwestern proved its mettle in close games once again. Northwestern has won seven of its last nine one-goal games.
In the 88th minute, it looked like Northwestern’s wild late season run was coming to an end. Northwestern entered its quarterfinal against Purdue on a four-game win streak. The Wildcats’ suffocating defense had not conceded a goal in nearly five games, but the offense was still looking for a breakthrough.
Enter junior Michele Chernesky. She broke away from the Purdue defense with just the goalkeeper to beat and slotted the ball home to give Northwestern a 1-0 lead. Goalkeeper Lauren Clem and the Northwestern defense held on for the final minutes and gave Northwestern the win. Northwestern will play Wisconsin on Friday in Westfield, Indiana.
This was huge for Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament hopes. After a 1-0 loss at Illinois on October 7th, the team’s hopes for making the Big Dance seemed unsteady. However, Northwestern hasn’t lost since that game, and with a berth in the Big Ten semifinals, the Wildcats should now find their way back to the Tournament. 33 at-large bids are awarded and Northwestern is currently 36th in RPI. Northwestern is back to the form that earned it a share of the Big Ten Championship last year.