The #3 Northwestern Wildcats field hockey team (13-1, 5-0 B1G) knows how to do one thing and one thing only: win. After dropping their first game of the season to then #9 Louisville (12-3, 2-2 ACC), the Wildcats are winners of 13 straight as they cruise toward Big Ten Tournament play at the start of next month.
They’ve been tearing it up without all-American forward Bente Baekers and stud backer/midfielder Kayla Blas, both of whom graduated last year. Fortunately, the returns of fourth-year midfielder Lauren Wadas and graduate students midfielder/forward Peyton Halsey and midfielder/backer Alia Marshall means that the Wildcats are still led by veterans who know how to win.
The ’Cats are a well-oiled scoring machine, trailing only Iowa (12-2, 3-2 B1G) in margin of victory, winning by 2.48 goals per game. They’re dominating opponents on offense, averaging three goals per game, good for eighth in the nation.
Marshall is third in the nation in assists per game with 0.86, helping NU average 2.86 assists per game as a team for fourth in the country. Halsey leads NU with 10 goals, followed closely by second-year backer Maja Zivojnovic with nine and fantastic first-year forward/midfielder Olivia Bent-Cole with eight.
More notably, the defense has been stellar this season, leading the nation in shutouts with 10 and goals allowed with just seven. Anchored by fourth-year goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz, who leads the country in goals against average at just under 50%, the Wildcat defense has put the breaks on aforementioned Iowa, one of the country’s most prolific offenses, as well as countless other teams.
The Wildcats have six ranked wins, including a massive 2-0 victory over then #3 Iowa on the road on Oct. 6. NU takes on #23 Penn State (7-6, 2-3 B1G) before facing another huge challenge with undefeated #5 Rutgers (14-0, 5-0 B1G) on the horizon, who sits atop the B1G standings with the ’Cats.
Most others would fear the gauntlet ahead, but most others aren’t NU. This is a complete team, balanced in all the right places. You can’t score on them; you can’t outscore them. You can only hope to contain them, and that isn’t enough. When the ’Cats roll into town, they’re looking to do one thing: win. And nobody’s going to stop them.
Thumbnail photo by AJ Anderson/North by Northwestern