With one minute left, Boston College was set for their ultimate shot.
Lined up for their fifth penalty corner of regulation, the Golden Eagles were staring their first overtime of the season head-on. For Northwestern field hockey, however, more time was no new prospect: the Wildcats had gone to extra periods in six of their 21 games. And after they tied the game 1-1 in the fourth quarter, it seemed reasonable that the first round of NCAA Tournament play would push on.
But the line was drawn when Boston College’s Sky Caron launched the ball toward Northwestern’s right goalpost, and Elizabeth Warner pushed it past junior goalkeeper Florien Marcussen for the game-winning score in Louisville.
The Golden Eagles’ (14-7) late response ended the Wildcats’ (14-8) 2019 season, a campaign marked by impressive wins, a multitude of ranked matchups, and a couple of strange losses. As the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern lost to eventual champion No. 2 Iowa in the semifinals but still managed to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Boston College pressed the ’Cat’s defense throughout the game. They had considerable control of the pitch, with the ball in Northwestern’s side of the field for much of the match. The Eagles also outshot Northwestern 14-9 (7-2 during the first quarter), but only 6-5 for shots on goal.
Despite Northwestern’s overall disadvantage in the first half, they nearly went into halftime deadlocked 0-0. But a late right-side shot by Boston College’s leading scorer, Margo Carlin, got ahead of Marcussen (4 saves) and put the Eagles ahead with under 30 seconds to go in the second quarter.
The Wildcats’ offense found many of their potential chances through breakaway attempts. But despite valiant efforts (especially the energy of first-year Alia Marshall) and close calls (senior Saar De Breij’s 1v1 against opposing goalkeeper Sarah Dwyer), the team couldn’t find the net through them.
Northwestern’s star of the season, Bente Baekers (4 shots, 3 on goal), was actually held to zero shots for most of the game. But the redshirt first-year, one of the country’s leading scorers, picked up a crucial penalty stroke early in the fourth quarter to give the team a chance at equalizing. Boston College pulled Dwyer for Jonna Kennedy to defend the shot, but Baekers wasn’t fazed, sending it right for her 28th goal of the season.
Ultimately, the dream of advancing on was short-lived, as Warner’s goal effectively sent Boston College onward and doused the Wildcats’ hopes of a second round match with Louisville. While several seniors (including two of the top three point leaders: De Briej and Kirsten Mansfield), will leave the program, the accomplishments of Baekers and the overall success of the season offer hope for another competitive season in 2020.