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Field Hockey: Red-hot Wildcats begin conference play with a bang

Six straight wins and perhaps the most dangerous offensive threat in the nation make this a team to be reckoned with.

Northwestern Field Hockey

Northwestern field hockey (8-2, 1-0 B1G) is without a doubt the hottest team on campus right now.

That designation is thanks in large part to redshirt first-year Bente Baekers’ outstanding back-to-back hat trick performance this weekend. The 11th-ranked Wildcats extended their win streak to six after taking down No. 12 Ohio State and Miami (OH), remaining undefeated on the road, with their second ranked win away from home within the streak.

Baekers was simply unstoppable in both contests. She recorded two consecutive hat tricks finished with 12 points, and has now scored 14 goals on the season, tied for most in the nation with Stanford’s Corinne Zanolli. The Dutch native has also recorded a goal in each of the Wildcats’ eight wins this season.

She was awarded both Big Ten Freshman of the Week and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for her efforts, making it so that Northwestern has won the former award in each of the four weeks it has been given out (Baekers 3x, Peyton Halsey 1x) and achieved the latter designation twice (Lakin Barry also earned it two weeks ago).

Northwestern started its weekend with its first Big Ten win of the season. The Wildcats got off to a hot start with two first quarter goals, never giving up the momentum and ultimately beating No. 12 Ohio State 4-1 in Columbus. Lakin Barry kicked off the day, scoring less than five minutes into the contest. Baekers extended the lead to two, scoring off a corner with the assists coming from Kirsten Mansfield and Kayla Blas.

Ohio State got one back at the end of the half, but two second half scores from Baekers kept the game out of reach for the Buckeyes, who were unable to even muster more than three shots on goal, and earned the Wildcats a statement victory early in conference play.

The Wildcats then traveled cross-state to take on Miami (OH). Northwestern extended its win streak to six by defeating the MAC favorites 5-2. The RedHawks struck first, but Saar de Breij and the Wildcats wasted no time and tied the game at one shortly thereafter.

Miami regained the lead later in the open period, but two consecutive goals from Baekers gave the Wildcats the advantage at half. Mansfield recorded her first score of the season off of a penalty corner rebound in the third, followed by Baekers’ final blow to both give her an astounding second hat trick in the span of just two days and create the final margin of victory.

Northwestern dives fully into Big Ten play at Lakeside Field back in Evanston in just a few days. The Wildcats will host No. 23 Michigan State on Friday and No. 9 Michigan on Sunday.