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    Fifth-Seeded Wildcats Host Spartans, Big Ten Tournament This Week

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Northwestern is hosting the Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament for the first time since 2004.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Northwestern is hosting the Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament for the first time since 2004.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Nov. 2, 2010

    2010 Big Ten Tournament First Round
    (5) Northwestern (11-8, 3-3) vs. (4) Michigan State (14-4, 3-3)
    Thursday, Nov. 4
    Lakeside Field
    Evanston, Ill. • 10 a.m.
    Streaming Video: NUsports.com All-Access
    In-game Twitter: @NU_SportsLIVE
    Gametracker: Click Here to Open Gametracker
    Click here for the Tournament Central page

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- For the first time since 2004, Northwestern will be the site of the Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament, set to run Nov. 4-7 at Lakeside Field in Evanston. Fifth-seeded NU opens its postseason against a familiar foe, taking on fourth-seeded Michigan State for the third time in three weeks at 10 a.m. Thursday.

    In addition to Gametracker and in-game Twitter updates of Northwestern's opening-round match, fans can also tune into live streaming video on the All-Access page of NUsports.com linked above.

    Tickets to the Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament will be sold as day passes on Thursday, Friday and Sunday at a rate of $7 for adults and $5 for senior citizens, students and youth.

    Following Northwestern's match vs. Michigan State, second-seeded Michigan will face seventh-seeded Iowa at 12:15 p.m. before No. 3 Penn State and No. 6 Indiana square off to close the first day of play.

    A win for the Wildcats on Thursday would set them up for a second-round date against top-seeded Ohio State Friday on the Big Ten Network. That game is scheduled for noon CT Friday.

    Barn-Burners
    In what has become a rarity since the institution of the six-game conference schedule in 2000, Northwestern and Michigan State will square off for the third time this season on Thursday. MSU has won both matches by one goal, both times breaking tie scores with less than six minutes to play to escape with wins. In the regular-season finale on Sunday, NU outshot the Spartans by a 17-10 margin but were done in by an outstanding game in the cage by MSU's Molly Cassidy, who made 12 saves.

     

     

    Northwestern's last victory over Michigan State came in a 3-2 overtime decision on Sept. 30, 2006.

    On the Rise
    There's no doubt that second-year head coach Tracey Fuchs has Northwestern headed in the right direction. During Fuchs' inaugural season in 2009, NU posted its highest win total (12) since 1995 and was ranked in the top 20 for the first time since 2003. NU has achieved several more landmarks under Fuchs' leadership in 2010, including:
    • Most Big Ten victories since 1997 (three)
    • Win over highest-ranked opponent (No. 6 Ohio State) since 1997
    • Longest winning streak since 2005 (five games)

    On Thursday, Fuchs will try to lead the Wildcats to their first win in the Big Ten Tournament since 1996, which also came against Michigan State.

    Statistics Check
    Northwestern sophomore Chelsea Armstrong wrapped up the regular season as the Big Ten leader with 24 goals and 60 points, both of which rank No. 2 all-time at Northwestern for highest single-season outputs. Keeping on the individual angle, Armstrong, Stacy Uchida and Sarah Marcincin -- all of whom comprise NU's key cogs on the offensive penalty corner unit -- placed fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively, among Big Ten assist leaders.

    As a team, Northwestern finished second in the league in shots per game (16.2), goals per game (3.16) and penalty corners per contest (7.84). Defensively, NU goalkeepers Amanda Wirth and Katie Lynch combined for the third-highest saves total (91) in the league.

    Sevens are Wild
    After Armstrong's 24 goals, three Wildcats placed second on the team with seven goals apiece: freshman Nikki Parsley, sophomore Regan Mooney and senior Zoe Almquist. In all, 13 different players have found the back of the cage for NU in 2010.

    'Cats Dole Out Awards
    At its annual team banquet held on Friday, Northwestern recognized members of its senior class and handed out a pair of individual awards. Zoe Almquist was the recipient of the 2010 Sannie van Dijck Players' Player Award -- given to the individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty on the field, in practice and workouts and in the community -- while Stacy Uchida received the Tara Pullara Award, given to an athlete who demonstrates perseverance, determination and a positive attitude.

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