EVANSTON – Even the fans in the bleachers could hear the message Michigan field hockey coach Nancy Cox was yelling to Lucia Belassi as the sophomore forward was pacing up the field.
“Get here, get here!” screamed Cox, referring to the sideline.
Belassi did just that, receiving an outlet pass and then making a quick pass to the middle of the field, where Katie Morris was able to knock home Michigan’s second goal of the game. It was this type of nearly perfect execution that enabled the Wolverines to ruin Northwestern’s Senior Day by beating the Wildcats for a 14th straight time, 6-1, on Sunday.
The team’s six goals were a season-high, and the win was the team’s third straight. The victory was a team effort. Five Wolverines scored against the Wildcats, including a pair of goals by Kristen Tiner.
Tiner scored the first goal of the game midway through the first half. Nearly seven minutes later, the Wolverines successfully stopped a Northwestern penalty corner and drove the ball up the field. It was then that Belassi hustled to corral the pass on the sideline, which allowed her to find a wide-open Morris for the team’s second goal and a 2-0 lead.
“The execution (of that play) was just beautiful hockey,” Cox said. “It’s kids knowing where the outlet lane is, hitting the outlet target and then our kids finishing. Those are the moments you live for when you are coaching. It was a tremendous execution of what we need to do on a more consistent basis.”
Mary Fox was also able to find the net prior to halftime as well, giving the team a three-goal lead going into the break.
Michigan came out on fire in the second half. Tiner, Belassi and Erin Dallas all scored goals in the first five minutes of the second half, which put Northwestern out of the game for good.
“I thought that our passing patterns and our possessions really enabled us to break the circle and capitalize on our scoring opportunities, and we really finished in front of the goal,” Tiner said. “We used our (penalty) corners well.”
The team held Northwestern to just a goal, and the Wildcats weren’t able to score until the 61st minute of the game, when all had pretty much been decided.
The team will travel to Berkeley, Calif., this weekend, where it will take on California on Friday and Pacific on Saturday.
Though the win this week was nice, there is still some room for improvement.
“I feel like we are doing really well right now, but we still have to work on our finishing skills inside the circle,” Belassi said. “(We) also (need) to communicate more on the field, so hopefully we’ll work it out during this week.”