Northwestern is a school that draws students from all over the globe. Many come here because of the university’s academic prestige, while others like the idea of going to school near Chicago. Some students come here to study journalism or engineering, and others because they simply want to go to school somewhere new.
In that sense, junior midfielder Lisa McCarthy and sophomore midfielder Dominique Masters are no different than most Northwestern students. Well, almost.
They also came here to play field hockey.
McCarthy and Masters are part of a large international contingent on the field hockey team, which includes six players born in England, Ireland and the Netherlands. McCarthy said that she started playing field hockey when she was growing up in Dublin, Ireland.
“I got into hockey when I was about seven, which is pretty different to what happens here,” McCarthy said. “I think recently in the States, people are getting into it a bit younger, but it’s definitely the sport that you play [where I’m from].”
Field hockey is a popular sport at many secondary schools in Europe. Mount Anville, the all-girls school in Dublin that McCarthy attended, is known for its field hockey program and was named “Hockey School of the Year” by the International Hockey Association in 2014.
Masters, who is from Canterbury, England, also began playing the game when she was a kid.
“I fell in love with it instantly," she said. "I did a few other sports, but it kind of got to the stage where I had to pick one, and it was pretty clear it was going to be [field hockey].”
Four other players on the team also grew up across the pond. Sophomore midfielder Juliet Beatty hails from Ireland, freshman forward Pascale Massey and junior midfielder Francesca Berry are from England and sophomore Isabel Flens is from the Netherlands.
These international players represent three of the ‘Cats' top four leading goal scorers (Masters, Flens and McCarthy) and McCarthy was named to the All Big-Ten first team on Wednesday. She and Masters have started every game for the ‘Cats this year.
By bringing in international players to strengthen the squad, head coach Tracey Fuchs has assembled a team that can compete with some of the best schools in the country. It’s a good thing too, because the Big Ten is a field hockey powerhouse, with three schools (including Northwestern) ranked in the Top 10 nationally.
McCarthy stressed the role that Fuchs had in bringing her to Northwestern. A former star on the United States national team, Fuchs is a two-time Olympian and won a bronze medal at the 1994 World Cup.
“Coach Fuchs was in Dublin traveling with the U.S. team and I didn’t realize she was a college coach. I emailed her asking if she had any idea about how I could look in to going to the States for [college],” McCarthy said. “She gave me a list of universities to look into and humbly mentioned Northwestern at the end.”
The ‘Cats have put together a remarkable season this year, finishing third in the Big Ten with impressive victories over No. 2 Maryland and No. 7 Iowa. Their success is due in no small part to the impressive play of international players like McCarthy and Masters.
“The main thing is definitely the chemistry,” Masters said. “We have probably the best chemistry I’ve ever experienced on a team before.”
McCarthy said that the influx of European players also affected the team’s strategy.
“It brings different tactics and different skills. I think the game here is a lot faster then it would be in Europe, so obviously coming in that’s something that we have to get used to. But I think having a diverse playing experience definitely helps out any team,” McCarthy said.
With McCarthy and Masters leading the way, the most important question about Northwestern’s field hockey team isn’t where they’re from. It’s where they’re going.
“Everyone can play any position. There’s such a good team bond, and we’re just very honest with each other,” Masters said. “We’re pretty good, as well.”