Field Hockey defeated on Senior Day by Arielle Schwartz
No cheers, no cries of joy, no encouraging shouts. All that was heard at Lakeside Field was the roar of a lion. The Wildcats awoke the Nittany Lions on Friday when conference trailblazer Penn State (8-9, 4-4 B1G) topped No. 16 Northwestern’s field hockey team (12-7, 4-4 B1G) 3-2 in both teams' final regular season game.
Penn State started strong right from the get-go. Just under eight minutes into the game, Penn State forward/midfielder Brooke Birosik scored a head-on goal, giving Penn State a 1-0 lead. PSU conquered the 'Cats once again minutes later when forward/midfielder Aurelia Meijer made a nice left-sided pass to Birosik, who cleanly whipped the ball into the net.
At this point, it seemed like the ‘Cats had completely lost it. Penn State kept its offense relatively busy, taking multiple shots on sophomore goalie Lindsay von der Luft.
Late in the first half, Penn State started to lose some steam. With only six minutes left in the half, junior midfielder Dominique Masters slayed the Penn State defense and scored a goal, closing their opponent’s lead and sending both teams to sideline at the half with the Nittany Lions boasting a 2-1 lead over the Wildcats. The ‘Cats took the field in the second half. Birosik pounded the ball into the net at the beginning of the half, scoring a hat trick and a third point for her team.
Even though Northwestern’s offense seemed to have showed up early in the second half, they were no competition for the bigger and stronger group of "cats," and further fell apart at the hands of the Nittany Lions. One of Masters' shots dinged off the goal post, but that was the closest Northwestern came to scoring for much of the second half.
“The angle of the ball was just not quite right or something was in the way I guess," Masters said. "It’s annoying, but at the same time we hit the keeper plenty of times so it’s those kind of things that we have to keep pushing and pushing and getting the details.”
With only ten minutes left in the game, senior Caroline Troncelliti was yellow-carded, putting NU at a numbers disadvantage. Additionally, the team further punctured their chances when they missed a penalty stroke. The 'Cats put a point on the board in the last second, but it was too little too late as they fell 3-2.
This loss is the unfortunate segue into next week’s Big Ten Tournament in Hoosier territory. Coach Tracey Fuchs said she is determined to prove that Northwestern can rise high against their conference next week.
“We have three days to figure it out," Fuchs said. "You know our path to the NCAA is through the Big Ten Tournament so certainly we have the capability to do it. We just have to prove it on the field and stop talking about it.”
The 'Cats will play again next Thursday in Bloomington against Ohio State.
Volleyball splits against Michigan schools by Tim Hackett
On Halloweekend, the Wildcats (13-10, 5-7 B1G) faced a scary challenge from the two B1G Michigan teams, No. 25 Michigan (16-6, 6-5 B1G) and Michigan State (14-9, 6-6 B1G).
The Wolverines seized the first point of the match, but Northwestern remained in control of the set until the final point. In her first career collegiate match, freshman Ashley Bush made an immediate impact, tallying her first two career kills to put Northwestern up 10-7. The set stayed close; neither team ever led by more than three. Bush pushed through her fourth kill of the set to hand the Wildcats set point at 24-23, but the Wolverines rattled off the final three, taking the first set 26-24.
Seizing the momentum from their first set win, Michigan raced through the second. The Wolverines never trailed, and, save for the requisite opening score of 0-0, the set was never level, either. Abby Cole got Michigan on the board first with one of her ten kills on the night. The Wildcats hung around for a while, but the visitors eventually broke it open. Michigan went on a 7-2 run, prompting Northwestern coach Keylor Chan to call his second timeout of the frame to slow the momentum. Michigan netted the final seven points to convincingly win the second set 25-13.
The Wildcats started a little better after the break, jumping out to an early 3-1 lead, which turned out to be the last lead they would hold in the match. The Wildcats were much too sloppy, and Michigan comfortably won the final set 25-18, with the winning point coming from Northwestern’s sixth service error of the frame.
“We physically didn’t execute some things after set one,” a visibly frustrated Chan said after the match. “They got in our heads a little bit. We have to be more resilient, we have to have a little more grit than that, and show a lot more fight than we did tonight. It was pretty disappointing.”
Bush credited the support of her teammates for helping make her transition into college volleyball easy.
“The first set was awesome,” she said. “The momentum on the team was so up, so it made me feel up too. I just feel like we need to work on keeping that momentum high.”
The Wildcats had fewer than 24 hours to digest their third straight sweep before taking on the other Michigan team, the Spartans, on Halloween. The visitors erupted out of the gates, scoring seven straight to open an 11-3 lead. The Spartans the surrendered the opening point, but never came trailed after that, as Michigan State made off with the first set 25-18.
Something seemed to change for Northwestern after the first set. The Wildcats kicked off the frame with an ace from Abbie Kraus, and they never trailed. Gabrielle Hazen was a huge reason why. The 6’3” sophomore tallied five kills along with two blocks in the second frame alone, and her team snagged seven of the final ten points to take the tying set 25-15.
The Wildcats came out of the break with similar energy, jumping out to an early 8-3 lead that forced Michigan State coach Cathy George to call a timeout. After the Spartans took a 15-14 lead, Northwestern won 11 of the next 16 points to take the set 25-20.
The fourth set started close, but Northwestern eventually built up a 15-10 lead. Michigan State kept it tight, but the Symone Abbott show was in full effect: the sophomore added five more kills in the frame, and Kayla Morin finally stuck the dagger in with a big swing to seal the set at 25-21.
Lavin and Morin each tallied ten kills, but Hazen and Abbott really shone. Abbott finished with 17 kills, the third-highest total of her career, on a near flawless offensive day. Hazen proved how much she was missed in her brief absence, totaling nine kills, but also eight total blocks, including five solo blocks, both of which are season-highs.
“Our defense was incredible,” Hazen remarked. “I know Carks [Niedospial] has my back if I’m not there to get the block, and she knows I’m going to do my best to set up a good block. We all just work for each other.”