Oct. 20, 2011
No. 20 Northwestern (10-6, 1-3 Big Ten) vs. Pacific (2-10, 0-5 NorPac)
Friday, Oct. 21
Evanston, Ill. 3 p.m. CT Live Stats Wildcats All-Access
No. 20 Northwestern (10-6, 1-3 Big Ten) vs. No. 11 Iowa (11-3, 3-2 Big Ten)
Saturday, Oct. 22
Evanston, Ill. Noon CT Live Stats
EVANSTON, Ill. -- After more than 10 days off from their grueling schedule, the 20th-ranked Wildcats resume play this weekend, looking to get back to their winning ways after dropping the previous three contests, two of which came by way of overtime heartbreakers. To kick-start the final stretch of the season, Northwestern welcomes Pacific at 3 p.m. Friday, followed by a Big Ten battle with No. 11 Iowa at noon Saturday.
Taking Offense: Big Impact on the Big Ten
Northwestern owns the Big Ten's second-best scoring offense through 16 games, compiling a staggering 46 goals. This powerful offense features a compelling cast of characters who lead the Wildcats' charge, including NU's all-time leader in both points scored (164) and goals scored (68), Chelsea Armstrong. Just over halfway through her junior campaign, Armstrong has tallied a conference-best 50 points and 22 goals so far; both marks also are top-5 efforts in NU's record book for a single season.
Playing alongside Armstrong on the attack are the likes of Regan Mooney and Julia Retzky. Mooney leads the Big Ten with her 18 assists on the year - placing her in a tie for fourth-best for a single season in program history with four games remaining. The senior also has seven scores this season, the second-best mark on the team behind Armstrong. Retzky has been solid in the offensive game plan, tallying 11 assists on the year as the stopper, a top-10 performance in the conference.
Before her senior campaign, Claire Thompson
had accumulated two goals and four points for the Wildcats over three years as a reserve forward. But 2011 has undoubtedly been a shining moment for Thompson, who has made an undeniable impact on the pitch, registering five goals and an assist while starting nearly every game for NU.
As sophomores, both Maria Kovalchuk and Nikki Parsley have presented a stiff challenge for opposing teams with headstrong performances on the pitch. With her aggressive play, Parsley finds herself in third place on the team with six goals and 12 points. Kovalchuk has registered five goals on 18 shots this year, earning 13 starts in the middle.
Also walking the middle line are sophomores Catherine Franklin and Sherilyn DeStefano and junior Shannon Disbrow, all of whom are versatile players who have used their skills for the downfield offensive attack, as well as lending a helping stick on defense in crucial situations.
Seven 'Cats have combined to record 11 team defensive saves this year, four more players than the next best team in the conference. Redshirt freshman Kelsey Thompson leads the team with four defensive saves herself, tied for second most in the conference. Solid play up the middle has allowed Northwestern to compete against big-time offenses; the Wildcats have four wins against top-20 opponents this year, two of which came against teams in the top-10 in the nation at the time.
As a true freshman, Maddy Carpenter has been in the cage for the 'Cats for the bulk of the season, tallying 57 saves in 15 games (3.8 per game). Her two shutouts (against Kent State and Michigan State) in that span are tied for second in the Big Ten. Junior Amanda Wirth has three starts under he belt this year, totaling 10 saves, compared to just two goals allowed, giving her a 1-0 record. In front of Carpenter and Wirth stand a slew of defenders, each of whom have impacted play on the pitch at various times throughout the season. Megan Jamieson has been a true senior leader for the squad on defense, starting every game for NU. Jamieson also got into the offensive mix for brief moments this season, notching her first career assist at Miami (Ohio) and her first career goal against Saint Louis.
Senior Jaimie Orrico and sophomore Colleen Petronchak have been forces on defense in every game this season, much to the dismay of opposing offenses. The two backs are efficient in stickhandling and creating turnovers in the Wildcats' favor, and both have been especially good at forcing the ball to the sidelines.
The Freshmen Four
Four other freshmen have seen the pitch other than Carpenter this season, including Kirsty Crampton Smith who is the only newcomer to see action in all 16 games. Against No. 18 Virginia at home, Morgan Joffe recorded her first career assist with a nice setup for Armstrong, who connected for the first goal of the day in the 5-3 win. Babs van de Mierop and Mary Susan Bro have each seen action in four games, coming in as reserves.
Scouting the Tigers
Pacific enters the weekend with a 2-10 record on the year, going 0-5 in NorPac Conference play. The Tigers are lead on offense by senior Amanda Spellman, who has a team-high four goals and eight points. Friday will be the fifth meeting between the two schools since 1984, with Northwestern taking all five contests, including two at home against the Tigers.
Scouting the Hawkeyes
Iowa (11-3, 3-2) visits Evanston on a three-game winning streak, including victories over Ohio State and Ohio on the road before beating Indiana at home last week. The Hawkeyes have defeated three top-20 teams this year, running past No. 11 Wake Forest in their first game followed by No. 18 Ohio State and No. 18 Indiana over the last two weeks.
Sophomore Kim Scraper leads the way for Iowa with 16 goals and 33 points, both second in the conference behind NU's Armstrong. Junior Kathleen McGraw stands strong in the cage for the Black and Yellow, having notched a Big Ten-best four shutouts on the year, most notably two weeks ago at No. 18 Ohio State.
NU is 19-48-4 all-time against Iowa, but the 'Cats used four goals by Armstrong a year ago to down the Hawkeyes, 4-2, in Iowa City.
Northwestern closes out the regular season next weekend with a visit from both Ohio State and Louisville. The Wildcats battle the Buckeyes at 3 p.m. Friday, followed by the season finale against Louisville at noon Sunday. The Big Ten Tournament sets NU's postseason hunt into motion, with all seven conference foes convening in University Park, Pa., on the campus of Penn State from Nov. 3-6.
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