Field Hockey Falls to No. 9 Northwestern

Riding high after a shutout against Iowa, the Spartans were quickly brought back down to earth in a 5-2 loss to No. 9 Northwestern Sunday afternoon.

Kristin Matula and Alli Helwig each scored their second goal of the weekend, but the hole was too deep to climb out of.

After finally scoring the first goal on Friday, Michigan State found itself down 3-0 just 17 minutes in. In the last 12 games, Michigan State has now given up the first goal 11 times.

“I think we came out flat, that’s the bottom line,” assistant coach Molly Pelowski said. “We didn’t come out playing Spartan hockey, and then I think we hit the panic button for the first 35 minutes.”

Pelowski stepped in for head coach Helen Knull, who was not at the game for family reasons.

Dominique Masters, Lisa McCarthy and Lauren Bernardi each tallied goals for Northwestern as they completely dominated the first half and shut down the Spartan offense.

The Wildcats held the Spartans to just one shot in the half with no shots reaching goaltender Maddy Carpenter. The Spartans only shot of the half came 16 minutes in, after it was already 3-0 Wildcats.

Coming out of the break, the Spartans would finally go to the attack and tilt the field in their favor.

Helwig would cut the deficit to 3-1 as she put a rebound behind Carpenter off of a shot by Abby Barker.

“Once we got into that second half, the ball carrier got her head up, people off the ball started moving, we started shooting and passing together,” Pelowski said. “We got that goal and the momentum started to shift.”

Michigan State would make it 3-2 just 1:50 after Helwig’s goal as Matula redirected a shot by Jenni Smith out of a corner. The two quick goals forced Northwestern to take a timeout. Up to the timeout, the Spartans were outshooting Northwestern 8-2 in the half.

The timeout worked in the Wildcats’ favor as they were able to settle down and go back on the attack. Northwestern outshot the Spartans 6-2 after the timeout.

The insurance marker for the Wildcats would come with 10:41 left, as Masters would get her second goal of the game. Isabel Flens would add her second assist of the day on Masters’ goal.

“When you’re down, you’re going to make mistakes trying to come back, and we were trying and fighting but we couldn’t string those extra passes together,” Pelowski said.

With just 15 seconds on the clock, Flens would steal the ball and break in on the strong side. Patton went out to challenge and Flens took out the lob wedge and flipped a shot over the diving Patton and into the back of the cage to make the score 5-2.

Michigan State, now 8-7 on the year and 3-4 in conference play, has a week to make corrections as it travels to Ann Arbor next Friday to play the Michigan Wolverines before playing the Central Michigan Chippewas at Ralph Young Field next Sunday.

“We have to stay focused on what we need to do to win,” Pelowski said. “It’s about execution of our game plan. It’s simple, but it’s the doing it that’s hard.”

Brian Bobal is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports

Photo: Brian Bobal/Impact Sports