You may have already heard, but this weekend was rough.
No. 5 Northwestern’s eight-game win streak came to an abrupt end in a tough two losses, which spanned four days. The Wildcats (10-4, 3-1 B1G) fell 2-1 to fourth-ranked Maryland in double overtime and 4-3 to unranked (and 3-7) Maine in overtime this weekend. Heading into the final few weeks of play, NU took a big step backwards.
The Terps barely survived Evanston with a win on Friday, as the Wildcats put up an impressive fight against their third top-five opponent this season. Maryland started off strong, finding the back of the net just five minutes into play. However, it was a defensive battle for the rest of regulation, as the Wildcats were able to shut down six penalty corners behind Florien Marcussen’s season-high nine saves.
Late in the fourth, the ‘Cats still trailed by one, but Kirsten Mansfield tied it up with under three minutes to play off of a rebound from their first penalty corner, sending things to overtime for the second game in a row (after last week’s home win over Michigan).
For the first ten minutes of overtime, both teams’ defenses held strong. Marcussen charted another crucial save off a tricky Maryland shot, forcing a second extra session. Midway through the second overtime period, Bente Baekers carried the ball down field, dodging her first defender with one left to beat.
As she beat the second with a clear goal ahead, the player tripped her from behind to prevent the wide-open goal, which likely would have ended the game. However, the ensuing missed call on what should have been a penalty stroke would ultimately decide the fate of the contest.
Immediately, Maryland was able to steal the ball from first year Alia Marshall deep in Northwestern territory, leaving Emma DeBerdine one-on-one in the circle and setting up the game-winning goal.
The loss was a heart-breaking one for the Wildcats, but their valiant efforts against a consistently impressive Maryland team certainly boded well for post-season hopes.
Northwestern then immediately suffered its worst loss of the season against arguably one of the worst Division 1 teams in the country.
NU fell behind early, but Bente Baekers tied things up with her 17th goal of the season. Maine regained the lead at half, and each team tallied another in the third to give the Black Bears the 3-2 lead heading into the fourth. With under four minutes to play, first year midfielder Ana Medina Garcia put in the equalizer off a rebound on a corner, sending the Wildcats to their third consecutive overtime game.
Maine was ultimately able to steal the win in overtime — the final blow of a painful weekend.
With just five games left in the regular season, the Wildcats will hit the road to take on Penn State on Friday and No. 18 Rutgers on Sunday. They could certainly use some positive results to get things back on track.