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Field Hockey: No. 2 Northwestern looks to defend its crown

After locking up the No. 2 tournament seed, Lakeside Field will host NCAA Tournament matches for the first time.

Despite falling in the Big Ten Tournament to No. 6 Michigan (14-5, 5-3 B1G), the NCAA tournament higher powers decided that Northwestern’s (17-4, 5-3 B1G) record was strong enough to earn the No. 2 tournament seed, likely influenced by its incredibly strong strength of schedule. After Lakeside Field hosted a play-in game between Miami (OH) and Rider yesterday, the ‘Cats will face that game’s winner in the No. 25 RedHawks tomorrow at their home site.

The RedHawks are no unfamiliar face to this team, who actually wrapped up their regular season against them on October 30 in Oxford, where NU came out on top, 3-1.

Big Ten Tournament

After finishing the regular season 15-3, third-seeded Northwestern Field Hockey traveled to Columbus, OH for the Big Ten Tournament. The ‘Cats took on the sixth-seeded Rutgers Scarlet Knights, earning an overtime victory (their fifth of the season) to send them into the Big Ten semifinals. Senior Captain Peyton Halsey sealed the win with a penalty stroke - her second of the season.

They went on to upset the second-seeded Maryland Terrapins with a 2-1 victory. Halsey notched a goal alongside her fellow senior teammate Alia Marshall. Through these two games in the Big Ten tournament, Northwestern avenged two of its earlier losses to the Terrapins and the Scarlet Knights.

In the conference championship Sunday, the ‘Cats scored a late-goal by the stick of Lauren Wadas, but they were unable to come back from an early 2-0 deficit, which made Michigan the 2022 Big Ten Tournament champions.

NCAA Tournament

Despite this, the ‘Cats earned the No. 2 national seed, likely because Northwestern ranked third in RPI. Undefeated North Carolina earned the No. 1 seed, while fellow Big Ten foes Maryland and Michigan earned the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, respectively (view the full bracket here). This sets up many potential conference storylines, which could begin if Northwestern beats Miami (OH) once again tomorrow. If the Wildcats win and Iowa beats Virginia, which will also take place on Lakeside Field, they will have a chance to avenge their other regular-season conference loss to the Hawkeyes.

The RedHawks put up a convincing win over Rider, scoring 7 goals. Claudia Negrete Garcia scored a hat trick on seven shots, while Luli Rosso added one. Rosso scored the lone goal in the Red Hawks loss to the ‘Cats on Oct. 30.

Tomorrow marks the first time Northwestern has hosted postseason play on Lakeside Field, as only the four seeded teams are granted hosting. In their quest to defend their title, the ‘Cats kick off the NCAA tournament at noon C.T.

Oh, and if you needed some hyping up before that — relive the ‘Cats national title run here.