Aug 29, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern lifts the lid on its 2013 field hockey season this weekend as it travels to the East Coast for a trio of games.
The Wildcats open their slate at 11 a.m. Central time Friday with a contest at Providence prior to taking on Northeastern at noon CT Sunday before closing out the trip at UMass Lowell at 1 p.m. CT Monday.
NU enters the season ranked No. 11 in the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I Preseason Poll as it welcomes back eight starters and 14 letterwinners overall from last year's squad which went 16-4 overall. The 16 victories were the most by the 'Cats since the 1989 season.
Tracey Fuchs enters her fifth season as the head coach of the Wildcats with a 51-30 career record, leading Northwestern to double-digit win totals each of her first four seasons at the helm.
Senior Tara Puffenberger headlines the list of returners after earning third-team All-America honors in 2012. A year ago she ranked fourth in the Big Ten 40 points and fifth with 15 goals. Senior Nikki Parsley is back in the fold after joining Puffenberger on the All-Big Ten and All-West Region first teams a year ago. Parsley represented USA Field Hockey at the Junior World Cup in Germany over the summer after previously competing at the Junior Pan American Games in Mexico and the Four Nations Tournament in New Zealand.
Lisa McCarthy returns after becoming the first Wildcat to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season. The Dublin, Ireland, native paced the conference with 18 assists. Northwestern will be solid in goal with junior Maddy Carpenter in the cage after leading the league with a 1.32 goals-against average.
Northwestern will need to replace the graduated Chelsea Armstrong, a two-time first-team All-American who led the nation with 29 goals during the regular season in 2012 and became just the ninth player in Division I history to record 100 career goals.
The Friars went 9-9 overall in 2012 and were picked fourth in this year's Big East preseason poll. Junior defender Henni Tietze was named one of four unanimous selections to the Preseason All-Big East Team. She led Providence with 11 goals last season and was second on the squad with 26 points. Senior midfielder Caitlin Malone paced the Friars with 27 points a year ago and was second to Tietze with nine tallies. Northwestern leads the all-time series between the teams 4-1. Providence won the last meeting 4-3 in overtime in Evanston Oct. 7, 2007.
Ranked No. 15 in the NFHCA preseason poll, the Huskies open their season against Monmouth on Friday prior to taking on Northwestern. Northeastern posted a 14-7 record a year ago and competed in the NCAA tournament. Senior forward Lindsay Bennett, a Preseason All-CAA pick, is the team's leading returning scorer after posting five goals and 11 assists in 2012. She is joined on the preseason all-conference team by midfielder Zoe Kale. The Huskies are picked to finish second in the CAA this season behind Drexel. Northwestern holds a 7-6-1 all-time edge in the series, though Northeastern posted a 2-1 win in Louisville, Ky., a year ago.
Scouting UMass Lowell
The River Hawks are in the first season competing at NCAA Division I level and Northwestern is the team's inaugural opponent. The team posted a 19-4 record in 2012 and advanced to the NCAA Division II championship match for the sixth straight year. Senior forward Melissa Effertz is the team's top returning scorer after notching 14 goals and 11 assists for 39 points a year ago, headlining eight returning starters. Senior goalkeeper Melanie Hopkins posted an 18-4 record with a 0.93 goals-against average last season. Monday's match will be the first meeting between the schools.