After two straight championship appearances, the first of which earned Northwestern its first field hockey title ever in 2021, the bar for field hockey is high. The ‘Cats have become a top-tier program and they’re set on keeping up that reputation. A player in each one of Northwestern’s NCAA tournament games over her tenure, Lauren Wadas has been a key player in NU’s rise to one of the best teams in the country. Today, we’ll preview the senior midfielder to see how the veteran can help the Wildcats, and herself, win a second national title.
Who is she?
Senior; midfield; from Annville, Pa.; US Women’s National Team member
2,680 minutes over 60 games; 13 goals; 35 points; 9.8 SH%; 56.4 SOG%.
Wadas was a key member of the ‘Cats’ national title run; in fact, that goes for both championship runs. She has been a consistent and reliable player her past two seasons, but her junior year saw her step up even more to contribute greatly on both sides of the pitch.
The midfielder started and played every game, totaling the fourth-most minutes on the team last season. She also tallied six goals, 15 points and three defensive saves with 56.7% of shots on goals. What was remarkable about Wadas’s season, in particular, was her performance in pressure-filled moments.
In a match-up against No. 6 Michigan, the Pennsylvania native notched the walk-off 1-0 win for the Wildcats in double overtime, which earned her a Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week nod.
Two of her three team-leading defensive saves came in the regular season against Maryland. The ‘Cats won the game in overtime, with a big thanks to both of Wadas’ saves in the fourth quarter that kept the game even.
She rounded out the year by being named to the NCAA and Big Ten All-Tournament Teams, along with the NFHCA All-West Field Team.
Wadas is an all-around strong player, with both offensive and defensive abilities. Her greatest strength is her ability to be all over the field. She’s a strong defender with an ability to score, attributing six and four goals, respectively, over her junior and sophomore seasons, along with contributing to 15 and 13 points.
Although Wadas doesn’t rack up a ton of points, she does maximize opportunities when it counts. In fact, Wadas shines in the important moments — a trait that didn’t just exist as an upperclassman. She knocked in the winning and sole goal with a minute left in regulation against No. 1 Iowa to send the Wildcats to the Final Four in 2021. Suffice to say, when the game is on the line, Wadas is the one you want on the field.
When Bente Baekers is your teammate, no one is probably going to score nearly as many goals as she does. But Baekers is gone, and it’s time for Wadas to tally some more goals. As a midfielder, too, it would have been nice to see the Women’s National Team member log more assists, with only four and five the past two seasons. Wadas is a very present and noticeable member of the squad, and hopefully, this season is a chance to improve on finding the back of the goal with other high scorers graduating. Behind Baekers, Wadas had the second-most shots with 67; however, her .090 shooting percentage was the seventh highest.
The expectation for Wadas is simple, yet a tall task: she is going to be a leader on this team, on and off the field. Tracey Fuchs returns a pretty veteran-heavy roster, and Wadas is certainly one of the names that jumps out. She logged decent playing time as a first-year, appearing in 14 games and starting in eight; her sophomore season she started 20 and played in 21, and last season, she started every game. It’s easy to tell how versatile of a player she is and how prominent her presence is.
The bar for Wadas is high. She can be expected to dominate both sides of the ball and to considerably step up on the attack. Of the returning players, she is tied for the second-most goals from last season at six with Ana Medina Garcia. Peyton Halsey then has the most with 13. There is clearly an opportunity for Wadas to become a high scorer, and if there is anything Wadas has shown, it’s that she knows to how to make the most of an opportunity.