Field Hockey: Huskies reach twelve in a row

Field Hockey: Huskies reach twelve in a row

By Jason Richland

The field hockey team continued its dominance with another pair of victories this week.

The Huskies extended their winning streak to 12 games with a 3-2 victory over Harvard on Wednesday at Sweeney Field and a 5-3 Colonial Athletic Conference victory at Drexel on Friday.

The streak is the longest since 1997, when the Huskies won 13 games in a row before falling to Ball State, 5-0, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

When this streak will end is the main question facing NU.

The next three games are intimidating – No. 14 Connecticut today, No. 16 Boston College on Saturday and No. 8 Old Dominion a week from Friday. Three games, three nationally ranked opponents.

Just because the competition is high doesn’t mean the Huskies will fall.

“It gets you motivated to play better competition,” head coach Cheryl Murtagh said. “Our schedule is what allows us to do better. In the past it was hard to maintain our rankings. Now, we have an opportunity [to move up in the rankings]. You challenge the kids and the kids can challenge themselves.”

The 10th-ranked Huskies boast the fourth-highest scorer in the nation, junior Whitney Shean. The midfielder from Medfield with the fancy feet and vicious shot has racked up 35 points.

Junior Natalie Singelais is tied for second in the nation in assists with 11 and freshman goalkeeper Colleen Duffy has the third lowest goals against average in the conference, and 19th-lowest in the nation at 1.393. The Huskies also have a team offense ranked third in the nation and a shot differential of 20 to 8 per game.

“You can’t be scared if you’re prepared,” assistant head coach Scott Smith said. “We’re prepared for every game.”

That team motto entails a detailed review of their own play. The team studies tapes of their games in order to correct the mistakes they’ve made, instead of determining the mistakes opponents will make.

“We focus on ourselves,” Smith said. “We can only control what we do. We can only make changes to ourselves, so that is what we try and do.”

The Huskies (13-1, 4-0) are tied with Old Dominion (10-4, 5-0) for first place in the conference.

“I’m very happy for the team,” Murtagh said. “We have to keep in mind is that there are plenty of teams to play. We are allowing too many good goal-scoring opportunities. We need to be better defensively and we need to step up to the midfield better.”

On Wednesday the Huskies played Harvard to strokes after two halves and two overtime periods of 2-2 field hockey. Senior captain Jay Quinn and redshirt freshman Rachel Wilkes each scored in regulation, but Shean turned out to be the heroine with her game-winning penalty stroke score. Duffy also shared the heroic honors as she stopped the first Harvard attempt in the strokeoff, giving the Huskies the lead.

“[Duffy] is stepping up and that’s huge,” Murtagh said. “We are playing aggressively. We want our backs to handle the ball and when you do that you take the chance of making mistakes.”

Friday afternoon the scene was set in Philadelphia for the Huskies to continue their streak, and they did. Quinn and Shean each potted first half goals and sophomore Stephanie Casper, junior Natalie Singelais and senior Lauren Edelmeier all scored in the second half to give the Huskies the 5-3 victory.

In 1995, NU had 19 straight wins on their way to meeting Maryland in the NCAA Final Four. The Huskies lost, 3-1.

Gametime for NU’s afternoon tilt against UConn is this afternoon at 3 p.m. Against BC, the crosstown rivals will travel to Sweeney Field for a 4 p.m. start.

The Huskies have six games total left in their season, including a trip to James Madison on Oct. 30.

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