By James Duffy, sports editor
The Northeastern University (NU) field hockey team opened its season with four games on the road, winning two in California before dropping a pair in New England.
The team netted six goals in the two wins in California. After winning just five games last season, the Huskies put themselves in position to improve that total.
“The Cal trip was a great start,” head coach Cheryl Murtagh said. “I thought we played well and it was great to get those huge emotional wins for the team.”
The Huskies began their season against the University of California-Davis on Aug. 26, notching a 3-0 win. Senior midfielder Natalie Stewart scored the first goal of the season for NU 27 minutes into the first half. Sophomore forward June Curry-Lindhal potted another just two minutes later.
Junior forward Jamie Bartucca netted the third and final goal of the game in the second half. Senior goalkeeper Becky Garner started her final season with a bang, recording a four-save shutout. Garner didn’t record a shutout at all last season, so she’s already off to a hot start.
The team churned out another win on the West Coast two days later, coming from behind to take down the University of California-Berkeley.
NU went into the second half leading 1-0, courtesy of junior forward Kristin Abreu, but saw that lead evaporate. Cal found the back of the net twice to take the lead with 15 minutes to play.
In the last minute of play, sophomore forward Laura MacLachlan managed to tie up the game, beating Cal senior goalie Kori Griswold and forcing overtime. Ten minutes into the extra period, Stewart came up big again, scoring her second game-winning goal in as many games. The Huskies left the West Coast with a perfect 2-0 record.
The first loss of the year came against crosstown rival Boston University (BU), as the 17th-ranked Terriers knocked off the Huskies 2-1 at New Balance Field. MacLachlan scored the lone NU goal, and Garner had three saves. The game went to overtime tied at one, but this time there were no late-game heroics for the Huskies.
The team then traveled to Vermont, where the Catamounts handed them their second straight loss. MacLachlan and Bartucca each scored, but Garner was beat three times in the loss.
“I thought the team played well against BU, but the Vermont game was a disappointment,” Murtagh said.
Murtagh said she has high hopes for the season and nothing but praise for her squad and is confident that they can contend in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
“I absolutely believe they can compete for the CAA title,” she said, citing improved offense as a major catalyst.
The team is scoring at a much better clip than last season. Through four games, the Huskies have tallied nine goals, compared to four through the first four games of last season. Led by the improved offense, the team as a whole is playing better hockey this season.
“I feel like we have more people contributing in scoring, and I think we’re playing better defense in front of Becky,” Murtagh said.
The Huskies will play their first home game of the year on Sept. 9 when Providence College comes to town, their lone game of the weekend.
photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics