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Field Hockey: Northwestern falls 2-1 to Michigan in Big Ten Championship Game

Onto the NCAA Tournament.

With a chance to claim its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2014, No. 2 Northwestern fell short in the conference championship game, losing 2-1 to No. 6 Michigan.

It was a clash of the titans in Columbus, OH. Sunday; the Wildcats dominated recently in the postseason to win the NCAA Championship last season, while the Wolverines were national runners-up in 2020. Michigan has been quite strong among the Big Ten recently as well, having made the Big Ten Tournament final in 15 of the last 20 years, winning in 2020. With Sunday’s win, the Wolverines claimed their eighth Big Ten Tournament title, the most in conference history.

Northwestern came into the Big Ten Championship Game on a seven-game win streak, having recently upset No. 2 Maryland in the Semifinals on Friday. Meanwhile, Michigan had just finished off an upset over No. 3 Penn State. The two teams met once earlier this season, where Northwestern pulled off the 1-0 win in double overtime after a late goal from Lauren Wadas.

For a large part of the first quarter, both defenses flexed their prominence by shutting down the opposing offenses. Northwestern’s attack was stifled, while the Wolverines were able to get attempts that were blocked by goalie Annabel Skubisz. With 3:40 remaining in the opening period, the Wildcats earned their first penalty corner of the game from Alia Marshall, but they weren’t able to get the shot off. The Wolverines took it the other way, and 30 seconds later, Kate McLaughlin deflected a shot from her teammate, Katie Anderson, to put Michigan up 1-0.

The Wildcat offense remained stagnant in the second. Although Wadas and Bente Baekers were able to get shots off, the Wolverine defense held strong, as Michigan outshot Northwestern 9-to-2, while also outnumbering NU in shots on goal 6-to-0. Nonetheless, the game entered halftime 1-0 with Michigan on top of Northwestern after Skubisz’ five saves kept the game from getting out of hand.

The Wolverines came out firing in the second half, and the aggression paid off. Off of a corner shot nearly five minutes into the third, Lora Clark’s attempt was deflected off the post but rebounded by Brynn Zorilla, who tapped it into the back of the net to increase Michigan’s lead to two. Northwestern had a chance to counter shortly after, but Wadas’ shot via a corner went wide right. After three, UM still outshot NU 14-to-4, with a 9-to-1 disparity in shots on goal.

After nearly 10 minutes of offensive stalemate in the fourth, Marshall earned a corner shot. She found the conference’s defensive player of the year, Kayla Blas, who set up Wadas for a goal to cut the deficit to one. Wadas tumbled after a collision with Michigan goalie Anna Spieker, but was able to get the shot off just prior and it snuck past the star defender. After Northwestern pulled Skubisz from the net, Ana Medina Garcia had a great shot that sent Spieker diving, but it went wide left and the Wolverines hung on, defeating Northwestern 2-1.

Both teams will find out their respective seeds in the NCAA Tournament later today at 9 p.m. CT. The selection show will be available to watch on