15th-ranked Northwestern field hockey (3-2) proved it could compete with the best of the best in two hard-fought showdowns this weekend against No. 3 Duke and No. 13 Boston College.
The Wildcats started their home-opening weekend with the Duke Blue Devils, one of the toughest teams they will face all year. After battling for over 75 minutes, though, the Wildcats came up just short in a 2-1 overtime loss. Tracey Fuchs’ players did exactly what they needed to do to keep the Blue Devils on their heels, coming out with their guns blazing and taking a 1-0 lead just 37 seconds into the game thanks to first-year Peyton Halsey’s first career score.
Fourteen minutes later, Duke’s Hannah Miller tied the game at one, where it would remain for over an hour of hard-fought play from both sides. It wasn’t until the 77th minute that the Wildcats could no longer hang on, and the Blue Devils were able to seal the deal with a goal from Leah Crouse.
Duke dominated the Wildcats in offensive opportunities, leading 15-to-2 in shots, 8-to-2 in shots on goal and 8-to-0 in corners, but Northwestern’s defensive efforts kept the game close for as long as possible.
Led by junior goalkeeper Florien Marcussen’s 6 saves, the Wildcats gave a top team a run for its money and proved they are elite competition this year. While the outcome may not have been what Northwestern hoped for, the team’s overall impressive performance gave them the necessary momentum heading into what would be another battle with 13th-ranked Boston College.
The Wildcats defeated the Eagles in a dramatic 3-2 comeback win on Sunday. NU struck first, as redshirt first-year Bente Baekers found the back of the net early for her fourth goal of the season off a Lily Katzman assist.
Boston College responded with two goals to take the lead, but with seven minutes to play, Halsey scored the equalizer off of a rebound from a penalty corner. Less than a minute later, Katzmann took an overhead swing at a deflected cross from Lakin Barry, which somehow found the net and ultimately secured the win for the Wildcats.
While the team’s offensive efforts were admirable, its defensive play down the stretch allowed the Wildcats to hold on during a late offensive surge from the Eagles. A crucial defensive save from sophomore Maren Seidel with 10 seconds remaining ultimately sealed the deal.
Many Wildcats stepped up this weekend to help continue the strong all-around play. Baekers has continued to show her presence and offensive leadership, while Katzman played a major attacking role off the bench on Sunday, and Marcussen has been instrumental on the defensive end. However, above all, this weekend belonged to Halsey, who earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week for her four-point performance.
Northwestern will continue their nonconference schedule by welcoming UMass Lowell to Evanston on Friday before traveling to Winston-Salem to take on No. 10 Wake Forest on Sunday.