Despite the close scores, the Wildcats couldn't pull through.
Having won their last eight games, No. 5 Northwestern (10-4, 3-1 B1G) field hockey faced off Thursday against No. 4 Maryland (11-1, 3-0 B1G) at Lakeside Field on the Evanston campus. But the Wildcats couldn’t outlast the Terrapins, falling 2-1 in double overtime at Lakeside Field. The overtime period came after a 60-minute regulation time bookended by goals, and ended on a breakaway shot. The ’Cats did receive a point in the Big Ten standings for the overtime loss, however.
If the team’s defeat to Maryland was heartbreaking, their 4-3 loss at Maine (3-7) was surprising. Northwestern had only lost to top-five teams all season before the Black Bears upset them on Sunday in the first overtime period. The ’Cats had to play from behind for most of the game and squeaked out an equalizer with just four minutes left in regulation.
Northwestern’s close loss to Maryland, who was last season’s national runner-up, suggested that the team is a serious threat to any opponent, and Maine already had a ranked win on their resume before Sunday. Still, the team will need to avoid being demoralized and look ahead in order to regain momentum and reach the NCAA tournament.
Northwestern fell on the backfoot in the first quarter against Maryland. The Terrapins’ Kelee Lepage scored after the Wildcats lost possession of the ball on defense following a save. It was the first time the team had trailed to a Big Ten opponent all season following wins against Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan.
The Terrapins’ offense continued to apply shot pressure during the first half, while the Wildcats couldn’t emulate it. Maryland outshot Northwestern 12-0 (8-0 for shots on goal) by halftime, but only had one score to show for it. Goalkeeper Florien Marcussen piled up a total of nine saves for the ’Cats, with seven coming in the first half.
"I thought Flo played probably the best game of her career today and really held us in the game," said head coach Tracey Fuchs.
Bente Baekers had the first shot of the game for Northwestern (who would finish with five against Maryland’s 20) in the third quarter, but nothing came of it. Later the Terrapins took two consecutive penalty corners, though neither produced a goal that would extend their lead.
The Wildcats kept fighting throughout the fourth quarter, and eventually found an equalizer. A penalty corner taken by Kirsten Mansfield gave Lakin Barry a shot that was initially saved by Maryland goalkeeper Noelle Frost, but the ball got past Frost and rolled toward the net. Positioned near the goal line, Mansfield saw it and forced it along for the easy score.
In the first overtime, Northwestern and Maryland went back and forth looking for the game-winning goal, but to no avail. A second overtime began, and just ahead was the prospect for a shoot-out if the score was still tied. The Terrapins’ Emma Deberdine put the idea to rest, however, after she took the ball from the Wildcats’ Alia Marshall and scored the breakaway goal.
"We just need to make a few adjustments and have a little bit more poise, especially in overtime," said Fuchs. "It's six-on-six. It's exhausting. You need to get the ball and give it, and Maryland put their chance away today."
Tough to bear
Marcussen’s nine-save performance on Thursday was followed up Sunday with just three saves on seven shots-on-goal faced. Though Northwestern outshot Maine 15-10 and equalized three different times, they were never able to get ahead thanks to timely goals in response by the Black Bears.
Brianna Ricker scored late in the first quarter for Maine following a penalty corner, assisted by Cassandra Mascarenhas. Baekers tied the game up in the second with help from Mansfield and Ana Medina Garcia, but the Black Bears responded in less than two minutes with a Chloe Walton goal aided by Julia Ross.
Halfway through the third quarter Saar De Breij had the Wildcats’ second goal, but yet again the Bears roared back with a Brooke Sulinski score in under two game clock minutes. It took Garcia’s goal with just over four minutes remaining to force Northwestern’s third-straight overtime game, but in just three minutes of extra time Ricker secured the game-winner for Maine.
Maine’s win came almost a month after the Black Bears’ match against Temple at Kent State University was abandoned in overtime to accommodate an upcoming fireworks display ahead of an adjacent Kent State football game, according to the Bangor Daily News. An internal investigation of the incident by Kent State did not reveal a Title IX violation or any gender bias.
Game stats and details provided by SIDEARM Sports (Maryland, Maine) and Northwestern Athletics (Maryland, Maine)