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Field Hockey looks to stay on top as the postseason begins

Northwestern’s upperclassmen lead the Wildcats to dominate the Big Ten this year
northwestern field hockey
For the first time since 1994, Northwestern field hockey is the outright Big Ten regular season champion after a dominant 5-1 defeat of No. 7 Maryland. Goals came from five different players, including Peyton Halsey, Ilse Tromp and Alia Marshall (pictured). Photo by Ryan Kuttler

After Northwestern field hockey beat Rutgers to clinch a share of the Big Ten conference title, head coach Tracey Fuchs said this, “‘Cats don’t like to share.”

Then the Wildcats went out and beat No. 7 Maryland, 5-1, at Lakeside Field to close out the regular season as outright conference champions.

The Wildcats (16-1, 8-0 Big Ten) now look to remain dominant in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament Nov. 2-5 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

As the top seed, Northwestern skips a round and goes straight to the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT, to play the winner of the Penn State - Ohio State game. B1G+ will stream the quarterfinal matches; the Big Ten Network will carry the semifinals and championship match.

Fuchs’ words carry weight, and she knows her team is hungry. She also knows what success feels like at Northwestern. She is the winningest coach in program history. Since taking over the team in 2009, Fuchs led the Wildcats to a national championship in 2021, two Big Ten titles and six NCAA Tournament appearances. Yet, she says this is the most rewarding season in her career thanks to the graduate students and seniors on the team.

“They are probably some of the best leaders I’ve ever had in my tenure here,” Fuchs said. “They come out, they work hard, they make changes — and when your student-athletes do that, you have a chance to win every game.”

Graduate student midfielder and former women’s national team member Alia Marshall shared the team’s motto for the year: “W.I.N. What’s Important Now.”

“We really like to focus on the practice in front of us, the drill in front of us and the game in front of us,” Marshall said. “Taking it one step at a time.”

Marshall was a member of the 2022 squad when the Wildcats finished in second place in the country with a 20-5 record.

“I don’t dwell on it, but it’s a constant reminder of what’s at stake,” she said.

Marshall has either scored or assisted on 19 goals this season to contribute to the team’s longest-ever win streak. Fuchs also credits their strong defense, anchored by senior goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz, who was named this week’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.

“I’m really fortunate to not have gotten a lot of shots this year,” Skubisz said. “Every week we’re coming back and asking what we can do a little bit better. And I think that’s how we’ve been able to stay maybe a step ahead of other teams.”

Skubisz is one of several field hockey student-athletes with dreams to compete in the Olympics beyond the 2023 season. But, instead of dreaming about those future goals, she and her teammates are laser focused on what they say is most important now: the next game and supporting one another.

“We obviously have big goals, but we’re really working for each other,” said graduate student and midfielder Peyton Halsey.