There must be something in the air – Northwestern just continues to win games, no matter the sport. The No. 14 field hockey team carried the purple baton Friday, using their home field advantage to blow away the No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes in a shutout victory, 4-0. The 'Cats (9-4) now hold an even 2-2 conference record, scratching their way above Iowa’s (7-5) 1-2 conference record to take sole possession of fifth place in the B1G.
Caroline Troncelliti dominated the field, scoring two feisty goals, both of which resulted from extremely tough penalty corners (when a defender commits a foul within their penalty circle). Troncelliti, a midfielder, credits her penalty corners success to practices that emphasize ample repetitions of corner shots.
Midfielder Puck Pentenga also contributed greatly to Friday's win, making five shots on goal – and scoring a controversial goal in the second half that made Iowa fans jeer. Pentenga deflected midfielder Charlotte Martin’s shot, and the ball found its way into the goal to give the 'Cats a 3-0 lead. Coach Tracey Fuchs said she believes the refs made the right call by letting the goal stand.
“We definitely touched the ball," Fuchs said. "I think what they were arguing was that if the ball starts inside the twenty-five yard area it can’t go into the circle without it moving five yards, but the free hit was outside the twenty-five [yard marker].”
Mildfielder/forward Eva van Agt came in clean with NU's last goal, scoring with just over three minutes in the game. Her unassisted goal gave NU a commanding 4-0 lead and catapulted the Wildcats to victory.
Troncelliti said she thought that the win will serve as a major confidence booster for the team, since they lost their last brawl in a tight 3-2 loss against Indiana.
“It was huge. I think it was great to get our confidence back up and really get … back to where we want it to be," Troncelliti said. "Now we have this win where we could just build off of … and continue to get better in practice and win the next one.”
Fuchs said she came into this game believing that Iowa would be a stiff competitor, and that she's pleased with the 'Cats' effort against the fifth ranked team they've faced this year.
“Iowa’s a great team," Fuchs said. "They always play us tough. I thought it was a total team effort today from everybody.”
The field hockey team faces off with Stanford in non-conference play at home next Friday.