Field hockey splits in Michigan

By Eric Creamer

There is only one word that can describe the nationally-ranked Northeastern field hockey team right now: dominant.

The No. 12 Huskies were off to their best start in school history by going 6-0 before Sunday’s 2-1 overtime setback to third-ranked Michigan. The Huskies also defeated Central Michigan, 3-1, on Friday, and cruised past nationally ranked Boston College at home last week, 4-0. Coach Cheryl Murtagh is pleased with the way her team is playing so far.

“We’re off to a great start,” said Murtagh. “We’re ready to go every game. We’ve been putting some nice goals in, and our corners are coming around.”

NU has owned the opposition this season. Including their game against defending national champion Michigan, the Huskies have outscored their opponents, 19-5. They also have 14 assists compared to two for their opponents, and have taken 122 shots this season. Their deadly combination of solid offense and swarming defense has made life miserable so far for any team that tries to take them down.

“This is the kind of team that you try to [put together] every year,” said Murtagh. “We have young talent to go along with experienced upperclassmen.”

The defending America East Conference champions were only 20 seconds away from upsetting Michigan Sunday, but luck was not on their side. Junior Sarah Webber scored in the beginning of the second half, and NU was on their way to a big win until the Wolverines scored with little time remaining. In overtime, Michigan scored off of a corner shot to win the game.

Michigan took 15 shots compared to three by NU.

Also in Ann Arbor, Mich., NU downed the Central Michigan Chippewas with sophomore Liane Dixon scoring two first half goals and Fior Arrindell adding another for insurance.

“Michigan and Central Michigan are good teams,” said Murtagh. “They are big tests, and we haven’t been on the road a lot so far.”

Murtagh gave starting goaltender Emily Roy a breather against Boston College by starting Diana Nelson. Roy has been a big part of their success in 2002. She is 5-1 with a 0.77 goals-against-average with 26 saves, a 0.839 save percentage, and three shutouts.

In their game against the Eagles at Sweeney Field, NU absolutely hammered BC in the first half. Only 1:30 into the game, the Huskies got three consecutive corners, and, on their third attempt, Arrindell’s shot deflected off of Eagle goaltender Lauren Hill and Mari Creatini knocked the ball in for a quick lead.

Northeastern’s offense was fast and aggressive all afternoon. Twenty-two minutes into the intercity matchup senior Maureen Connelly blew by all Eagle defenders, faked out the goalkeeper, and slid the ball into the right side for a 2-0 lead.

The Huskies had a distinct advantage in terms of corners. They had 12 total, eight in the first half, while Boston College only had a total of six for the entire contest. On their fifth corner attempt of the half, NU hit pay dirt again when Leigh Shea set the ball up off the pass from Creatini, and Arrindell blasted the shot past the goalkeeper and into the net.

“We used our experience against Boston College,” said Murtagh. “We played very well.”

Sarah Broderick used her tenacity and experience to outplay her opponents on both offense and defense, and the Huskies earned another corner on their next possession. Just like the play before, Arrindell hammered the corner shot off of the goalie and into the net for the big 4-0 lead.

Northeastern took Kim French, Boston College’s leading scorer, out of the game by playing tight defense on her and using their speed to stop her from getting by them. The Eagles seemed to be playing better and with more aggression in the second half, but Melissa Rowell, Connelly, Bemis, and Arrindell were always there to thwart any shot attempts.

BC’s best scoring chances came with five minutes left to play when Virginia Drozd took a shot that was wide right, and, on another play, was pressured by NU’s Jay Quinn into a missed shot on the left side. The lopsided victory was not indicative of Boston College’s standing, who entered the game 13th in the nation.

“We wanted to cover a zone defense by trying to put a lot of pressure on their scorers in the first half,” said Murtagh. “Our defense was fantastic. This game is all about defense.”

The Huskies stay on the road as they travel south to Appalachian State on Friday at 8 p.m. and then play the Duke Blue Devils in Durham, N.C. on Sunday at noon. Murtagh said that she is excited for the seniors and older players on the team because of how their hard work has paid off.

“This is exciting for the older group because they have worked all four years to get to this point,” said Murtagh. “All of them work very hard.”

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