Northwestern field hockey’s thrilling season came to an abrupt end in the final minutes of its first-round NCAA Tournament matchup against Boston College. The Wildcats fell 2-1 to the Eagles on a last-second penalty corner, knocking them out of the tournament and marking the end of their 2019 season.
BC’s late-season momentum carried them past the Wildcats and into the second round of the tournament, despite having lost to Northwestern 3-2 back in September. They will go on to face No. 4 Louisville, who hosted this quadrant of the bracket and defeated Michigan 2-1 in double overtime earlier today.
The first half was mostly a defensive battle, with each team earning a few minor chances, though the Eagles mostly controlled the run of play. Boston College’s Margo Carlin finally broke the silence with 30 seconds left in the second quarter, knifing through the NU defense and flipping a shot past goalkeeper Florin Marcussen to take a 1-0 lead at halftime.
The Eagles were able to hold off Northwestern until Bente Baekers found her 28th goal of the season off a penalty stroke early in the fourth, having earned a foul call thanks to her stick being blocked as she wound up to take a shot on an odd-man rush.
Late in the fourth, the game seemed to be winding down, which would send the Wildcats to their seventh overtime contest of the season (BC still has not seen an extra session this year, which would have seemingly given NU the advantage).
But the Eagles garnered the game-winning goal with just 1:06 to play off their fifth penalty corner of the contest. The initial shot came from Sky Caron, and what appeared to be a diving tip in from Elizabeth Warner drove it into the back of the cage for her fourth goal of the season, by far her biggest.
With just over a minute to play, the Wildcats could not recover, and Boston College came away with the win to advance.
In following the trends of this season, Baekers was the driving force for the Wildcats with four shots and one goal on the day. Marcussen charted four saves, and first year Alia Marshall stood out along with senior Saar de Breij in the attack, often using their explosiveness to flip the field in vital situations coming off of extended pressure from Boston College.
However, one of the defining stats — one that ultimately decided the game — was Northwestern’s two corners (both of which came in the final five minutes) compared to the five of BC.
While Northwestern may have ended its season sooner than it would have liked, Tracey Fuchs’ squad had a remarkable showing in 2019, reaching the exclusive 18-team tournament for the second time in three years and continuing the program’s consistent positive momentum under her leadership.
Though they lose some important pieces, the young team certainly has a remarkable future ahead.