Update: Inside NU learned that Medina Garcia will not return to Northwestern for the 2023 season.
With the field hockey season less than three weeks away from officially beginning, Wildcats’ fans are ready for a quick retool and reload. While stars of last year’s squad like Bente Baekers and Kayla Blas are gone, there are still plenty of reasons to believe that Northwestern can continue to contend. One of those reasons is Ana Medina Garcia, the fifth year who started every game for the Wildcats last year. In her fifth year, she should serve as both a key source of offense and leadership.
Who is she?
Medina Garcia is a graduate student midfielder (although she played anywhere from center back to center forward last year), from Madrid, Spain.
58 games, 2,912 minutes, 15 goals, 10 assists, 40 points, 58% SOG, eight game-winning goals.
The fifth-year midfielder is a premier example of how hard work and tenacity lead to results. She’s developed from not playing at all in her freshman year to starting every contest last season.
Medina Garcia has been a Swiss army knife for the Wildcats, being used in a multitude of situations, and she fulfilled that role with aplomb last season, She finished third on the team in minutes and goals, and also tied for fifth in assists. She always shined bright in the biggest moments, scoring goals against No. 18 Duke, No. 9 Virginia, and No. 21 Ohio State. She was also able to show off her passing skill against Richmond, garnering a pair of assists.
However, Medina Garcia’s best talent was the ability to finish games off. She garnered four goals that qualified as game-winning, all of them in different ways. Her first-half goal against Duke set the tone for a 2-0 victory. Furthermore, against Michigan State, she gave the Wildcats the lead for well less than four minutes into the fourth quarter. Her winner against Ohio State in overtime was a wonderful goal as well, but she saved her best for last.
Against Iowa in the second round of the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats hope for a repeat seemed dim. They needed a late goal from Baekers to even force overtime, and couldn’t score in either extra period, leading to a stroke-off. With the stroke-off tied at 3 goals apiece, Medina Garcia powered home a goal. After Iowa couldn’t convert its next opportunity, Northwestern was back to the final four.
Any time a player with nearly 3000 career minutes chooses to come back for a fifth year, it’s a major boost for a team, and Medina Garcia is no different. Her 58 games include 16 appearances in either the Big Ten or NCAA tournaments, so she is no stranger to big moments.
That experience is likely to prove useful for the offense. With Baekers and Blas (responsible for 77 total points) gone, some of the returners will need to step up their games, and Medina Garcia is a likely candidate. She’ll also almost certainly be the one in control late in games, considering her penchant for late-game heroics. While fellow fifth-year Alia Marshall will likely control the distributing duties, it is Medina Garcia and grad student Peyton Halsey who will see their scoring responsibilities increased.
Of course, the minutes will continue to stay high. Medina Garcia was third on the team last year, behind only goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz and the departed Blas. There’s a chance she’ll play more minutes than anyone not named Skubisz this year. If everything breaks right for Northwestern, some of those minutes may once again be in the national championship game.