They’ve got football. Northwestern has field hockey. Two days after Ohio State earned a spot in the top four in the first College Football Playoff Rankings of the season, the Wildcats (13-7) routed the Buckeyes field hockey team (9-10) 4-0 in the Big Ten quarterfinals Thursday morning, earning a decisive victory as they look to defend their 2014 championship.
Last year, the Wildcats battled their way to the title, eking out one-goal victories in the first two rounds against ranked opponents. They took no chances against the Buckeyes.
Rolling off a two-score game against Penn State to close the regular season, junior Dominique Masters put the ‘Cats in front early. The Big Ten’s leading scorer snatched a pass from senior Lena Phillips at the top of the circle, pivoted and ricocheted a shot off the far post and into the goal. Masters scored in all three tournament games last year, netting four goals overall.
Then, with just over a minute left in the first half, Isabel Flens, a junior, sailed a penalty corner an inch off the ground toward the goal. Standing two feet from the post, freshman Eva van Agt deflected the pass into the air and over the head of a diving Buckeye goalkeeper.
A strong Northwestern defense neutralized Ohio State, while second half goals from Flens and Isabel Bernadi put the contest firmly out of reach. Ohio State managed only four shots and only one shot on goal, which redshirt sophomore Lindsay von der Luft safely snagged.
The win puts the Wildcats in the semifinals, where they will take on top-seeded Maryland Friday at 12:30 p.m. Central Time.