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March 24, 2016

Only the Best

Only the Best

THROWBACK THURSDAY – Note to Shannon Small, this week’s profile subject: Have a little faith in a not-yet-washed-up journalist. I didn’t have time to reach out to The Daily Northwestern. But I did have a chance to dig up the 1994 Northwestern Yearbook. I have to say in addition to reading about the 176 saves and seven shutouts, I loved the line about your aggression, and how you didn’t “back down to anything.” Granted, you were the goalie, and if you backed down to anyone or anything, I would speculate on the point of anyone playing the game, but what do I know.


Here are some photos and highlight from the write-up. As I mentioned yesterday, the women on this team were some of the toughest athletes I’ve been around. Granted I had no idea what the heck was going on most of the time watching a game filled with what felt like such excessive and random whistles by the officials. Yet it was always clear that I was watching one demanding and intense coach in Marisa Didio, and her team of fast, fun and gritty women. Go Cats!


By Greg Shea

With a disappointing 1992 season, topped off with the failure of making the NCAA tournament, the field hockey team set out this year to make a statement. The message was heard loud and clear as Northwestern sprinted to a 9-1-1 early season record and rose as high as second in the national rankings. The Wildcats experienced a bit of a late season slide, but made the NCAA tournament again beating California 3-2 in a sudden-death shootout. In the quarterfinals, Iowa, who scored a 2-1 victory over NU, brought their season to a sudden halt. Still, the season’s successful 12-6-1 record was undeniable.

“Overall, we had a great year,” said coach Marisa Didio. “We’re coming off a 6-11 record and to reverse that takes a tremendous amount of discipline, character and growth as a team.”

The Cats knew early in the season that they could play anyone and win. Their tough early season schedule prepared them for the rigorous Big Ten schedule. Two early road trips, to Boston, Mass., and Chapel Hill, N.C., gave the Cats confidence. In Boston, NU came away with three tough road wins over Massachussettes, Boston College and Northeastern. With the wins, the Cast vaulted from an unranked position to No. 3 in the nation. When the Cats invaded Chapel Hill to face the top-ranked North Carolina Tarheels, it was a chance to show their strength to the nation’s best. Even without a win, their 0-0 double overtime tie was a highlight of the season.

Led by goalkeeper Shannon Small and a solid defense, the Cats kept the scores low and pounced on any scoring opportunities to beat their opponents. Small finished the year with seven shutouts and 176 saves.

“Shannon’s extremely aggressive, and she doesn’t back down to anything,” said forward Linda Formosi. “She’s one of the best goalies in the country.”

On the offensive side, junior Gretchen Scheuermann came into her own this year finishing with 18 goals and six assists for 42 points.

“She’s one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever seen,” said back Trish Tulloch. “She can control a game, and she brings everyone else up to a higher level.”

One of the Cats’ biggest victories of the year was a 2-0 home win over third-ranked Iowa. With that win the Cats broke a six-game losing streak against the Hawkeyes.

The Cats’ return to the NCAA tournament gave Northwestern Fans the chance to see one of the most exciting field hockey games ever played at Dyche Stadium ending in a tension-filled 3-2 shootout win over California. After two scoreless overtime periods, Kelly McCollum scored a goal on the final stroke of the shootout to win.

In the quarterfinals, Iowa stifled the Cat offense and ended NU’s season. Though the season ended short of the Cats’ hopes, it was a successful return to the tradition of Cat field hockey. The Cats lose only two seniors, Shannon Small and Catherine Shin, and should be a force for years to come.

FHockey Scrum2 Shan in Goal Kelly McK FH Gretchen