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Field Hockey: Wildcats even up conference record and prep for a big test as regular season nears its finish

After dropping another close one at Michigan, Bente Baekers and co. rattled off two straight wins.

Coming out of its 12th victory of the season, the Northwestern field hockey team has secured its spot as the No. 5 team in the NCAA according to the latest NFCHA poll, which included four Big Ten teams in the top five.

After a strong non-conference start, the ‘Cats were ranked third in the country and thriving. However, once Big Ten played began, Northwestern failed to secure wins against three of its first four conference foes. A devastating double overtime loss to No. 2 Michigan brought the ‘Cats to a 9-4 record. After a 6-1 victory against Ball State, the team looked forward to its next two conference matchups against then-No. 19 Ohio State and unranked Michigan State.

The game against OSU went well for the Wildcats, ending in a 3-0 win against the 19th-ranked Buckeyes. Midfielder Maren Seidel shined, having a hand in all three goals. For the first goal of the match, midfielder Maddie Zimmer capitalized on a clean pass from Seidel, putting NU on top with 2:09 left in the first quarter. Seidel put another one on the board for the ‘Cats as the first half drew to a close. The third goal was also scored by Seidel after a turnover by Ohio State, assisted by Lauren Wadas. Overall, the ‘Cats dominated the game with 23 shots next to the Buckeyes’ three.

Remarking on the win, coach Tracy Fuchs told The Daily Northwestern, “We have a midfield that is (extremely) strong in the center. When opponents try to shut down one player, other players will score, which makes our offense so dynamic.”

The matchup against Michigan State went similarly to the previous game against the Buckeyes. With a 6-2 win over the Spartans, the Wildcats’ record rose to 12-4 (3-3 in conference). The shining star of this game was junior forward and legend-in-the-making Bente Baekers, who scored half of the team’s goals in a hat trick performance. Also scoring goals in the game against the Spartans were forward Clara Roth, who scored two, and forward Casey Joye, who tacked on her first goal of the season. Again, the Wildcats outshot their opponents, this time by an even wider margin of 28 to five.

“I think our team all came together and gave it 100% on the field,” Roth said to The Daily Northwestern about the victory over the Spartans, “We communicated and worked for each other so we could keep taking shots.”

As the season draws to a close, the ‘Cats have two more games in conference before heading into postseason play. After this weekend’s bye, Northwestern is slotted to head to Iowa City to face the No. 1 Iowa Hawkeyes on October 29.

“With the bye week coming up we have some players coming back from injury, so we are only going to get stronger in the final games of the season,” Fuchs told The Daily Northwestern.

After their clash with the nationally-leading Hawkeyes, the ‘Cats’ final game of the regular season is back in familiar territory, as they take on the Indiana Hoosiers at Lakeside Field in Evanston on October 31.