Oct. 27, 2005
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's field hockey team gears up to face the nation's two top-ranked teams this weekend. The Wildcats travel to North Carolina to face Duke at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, then play Wake Forest at Noon Saturday, Oct. 29.
Northwestern played one match last week, a 4-1 loss at No. 15 Michigan State. Northwestern's defense played admirably in the match, but a pair of Spartan goals in the 52nd minute kept the 'Cats out of striking distance. Senior co-captain Christine Nannicelli (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) scored her first goal of the season in the contest.
Despite going winless in conference play this season, the Wildcats are optimistic about the remainder of the schedule. Nine of Northwestern's last 11 matches have been against teams ranked top-20 nationally. The Wildcats have stayed competitive in every match this season, dropping five of their matches with ranked teams by two goals or less.
Northwestern continues to boast statistical leaders throughout the Big Ten. Junior goalkeeper Sherri-Anne Nyberg (Kelowna, British Columbia/Kelowna Secondary) leads the league in saves (105) and saves per game (7).
Offensively, Jill Putnam (Greenfield, Mass./Greenfield) is tied for fourth in the conference in goals (11) and is fifth in goals per game (.69). Junior Meghan Small (Bethlehem, Pa./Moravian Academy) ranks seventh in the Big Ten in shots, with 51.
The Wildcats are 1-1 against ACC teams this season. The Wildcats began the year with a 5-2 home loss to Maryland, then enjoyed a 4-3 double-overtime victory against Virginia.
Duke (13-3, 2-2) is coming off weekend wins over William & Mary and No. 7 Old Dominion. Northwestern and Duke have split the all-time series record 1-1, but the Blue Devils took the last meeting--a 5-1 decision over the Wildcats in Evanston last season.
The Blue Devils boast two players--Nicole Dudek and Katie Grant--who have each tallied 30 or more total points this season. Duke's offense is ranked fifth nationally.
Defending national champion Wake Forest (16-0, 4-0) has been ranked No. 1 all season, and already has clinched the ACC title.
The Demon Deacons lead the all-time series 2-1 and topped the Wildcats 6-0 in the last meeting on Sept. 4, 2000.
Wake Forest has six players with more than 10 points this season. The Demon Deacons enjoy the nation's 11th-ranked offense, scoring 3.25 goals per contest. Defensively, Wake Forest has held opponents to .83 goals per game, good for third nationally.
After this weekend, Northwestern gets set for the 2005 Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament Nov. 4-6, in Iowa City, Iowa.